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'■'■ They who sell mothers by the pound, and children in lots to suit purcha- 
what are they ? I care not what terms are applied to them, provided they do apply.' 
If they are not thieves, if they are not tyrants, if they are not men-stealers, I should 
like to know what is their true character, and by what names they may be called." 

William Lloyd GakriS 

" Let us not require too much of slavery. Let us not insist that the slaves shall 
never be separated, nor their families broken up." Xehemiah Adams, D.I>. 








I i 







"They who sell mothers by the pound, and children in lots to suit purchasers — 
what are they ? I care not what terms are applied to them, provided they do apply. 
If they are not thieves, if they are not tyrants, if they are not men-steal ers, I should 
like to know what is their true character, and by what names they may be called." 

William Lloyd Garrison. 

" Let us not require too much of slavery. Let us not insist that the slaves shall 
never be separated, nor their families broken up." Zsehemiah Adams, D.D. 



2 1 COR 5T HILL. 


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the. year eighteen hundred and fifty-five, 


In the Clerk's office of the District Court for the District of Massachusetts. 






While at school in France, I was often beset by my 
fellow students to know the history of my father, 
whom they heard was a fugitive from American des- 
potism. To satisfy their curiosity, I wrote out the 
first ten chapters of the following pages, as I had 
heard the incidents related. On returning to America 
last August, and finding that the narrative of my 
father's life, written by him, and published some years 
ago, was out of print, I determined to supply its place: 
and therefore have added a few more chapters to those 
written while abroad. 



Boston, Mass. 






"Bouse ye, and break the massive chain, 
The fetter' d slave that binds ; 
And check the sorrow and the pain 
The wretched negro finds." 

Five different biographies of the subject of the 
following pages have been published, during the last 
seven rears. — two in the United States and three in 
Great Britain. Of these, one was translated into 
German, and appeared in Dresden, and another was 
published in the French language in Paris. The 
writer of this, however, fancies that the relation which 
she holds to the author of " Sketches of Places and 
People Abroad, " gives her an advantage over those 
who have preceded her. 

William Wells Brown was born on the farm of 
Dr. John Young, near Lexington, Kentucky, on the 


loth of March, 1815. His father's name was George 
Higgins, half brother to Dr. Young. The Doctor 
removed to the State of Missouri, and took with him 
William and his mother, the former being then an 
infant. Dr. Young located himself in the interior of 
the State, sixty miles above St. Louis, in a beautiful 
and fertile valley, a mile from the river. A finer 
situation for a farm could scarcely have been selected 
in any part of the country. With a climate favorable 
to agriculture, and soil rich, the most splendid crops of 
tobacco, hemp, flax and grain were produced on the 
new plantation. On this farm, Elizabeth (William's 
mother) was put to work at field service. Distin- 
guished for her strength both of body and mind, and a 
woman of great courage, Elizabeth was considered one 
of the most valuable slaves on the place. Although 
Dr. Young was not thought to be the hardest of 
masters, he nevertheless employed, as an overseer, a 
man whose acts of atrocity could scarcely have been 
surpassed in any of the slave States. Grove Cook w r as 
a large, tall man, with rough features, red hair, grey 
eyes, and large, bushy eyebrows, which gave his face 
the appearance of a spaniel clog. Like most negro 
drivers, Cook was addicted to drunkenness, and when 
the least intoxicated, would use the whip without 
mercy upon those with whom he came in contact. 
This was the man selected by Dr. Young to look after 
his plantation, and superintend its affairs. 

William was separated from his mother at an early 
age, and was but seldom allowed to see her. The 
young slave was taught by bitter experience the want 


of a mother's care and softening influence. At the 
age of eight rears, he was taken into his master's reed- 
ical office, and was employed in tending upon the 
Doctor. As "William grew older, he became more 
serviceable in his new situation. When only about ten 
years old. the tender feelings of the young slave were 
much hurt at hearing the cries and screams of his 
mother, and seeing the driver flogging her with his 
negro- whip. As he heard the loud, sharp crack of the 
lash, and the groans of her who was near and dear to 
him, William felt a cold chill run through his veins. 
He wept bitterly, but could render no assistance. 
What could be more heart-rending than to see a dear 
and beloved one abused without being able to give her 
the slightest aid? Overseers at the South generally 
pride themselves upon their ability to break the stub- 
born spirit of the negro: and the man who shall suffer 
[are, male or female, to disobey a rule, without 
being able to flog him or her for such disobedience, 
would be immediately discharged by the proprietor. 
Ability to manage a negro is the first qualification for 
a good slave-driver. The Doctor had. among his fifty 
slaves, a man named Eandall, of stout frame, and more 
than six feet in height, and known as the most powerful 
slave on the farm. If there was heavy work to be 
done. Eandall was always selected to do it: and his 
task was sure to be finished before any other person's. 
The Doctor had flogged every slave on the place but 
Randall, and he would willingly have whipped him, 
but that he feared the undertaking, for Eandall had 
often been heard to say, "No white man shall ever 


whip me; I will die first.'* Cook, from the time that 
he came upon the plantation, had frequently declared 
that he could and would flog any nigger that was put 
into the field to work under him. 

Doctor Young having been elected to represent his 
district in the State Legislature. Cook took the entire 
management of the plantation. The Doctor had re- 
peatedly told him not to attempt to whip Randall, but 
he was determined to try it. As soon as he was sole 
dictator, he thought the time had come to put his 
threats into execution. He soon began to find fault 
with Randall, and threatened to whip him if he did not 
do better. One clay he gave him a very hard task. — 
more than he could possibly do, — and at night, the 
task not being performed, he told Randall that he 
should remember him the next morning. 

On the following morning, after the hands had taken 
breakfast, Cook called out Randall and told him that 
he intended to whip him, and ordered him to cross his 
hands and be tied. The slave asked why he wished to 
whip him. He answered, because he had not finished 
his task the day previous. Randall said his task was 
too great, or he should have done it. Cook said it 
made no difference, he should whip him. The slave 
stood silent for a moment, and then said — " Mr. Cook, 

1 have always tried to please you since you have been 
on the plantation, and I find that you are determined 
not to be pleased or satisfied with my work, let me do 
as well as I may. No man has laid hands on me to 
whip me for the last ten years, and I have long since 
come to the conclusion not to be whipped by any man 


living." Cook, finding by Randall's looks and ges- 
tures that he would resist, called three of the hands 
from their work, and commanded them to seize the 
insolent slave and tie him. The men stood still ; they 
knew their fellow-slave to be a powerful man, and 
were afraid to grapple with him. As soon as Cook 
had ordered them to seize him, Randall turned to them 
and said — " Boys, you all know me; you know I can 
handle any three of you ; and the man that lays hands 
on me shall die. This white man can 't whip me him- 
self, and therefore he has called you to help him." 
The overseer was unable to prevail upon them to aid 
him, and finally ordered them to go to their work. 
Nothing was said to Randall by the overseer for 
more than a week. One morning, however, while the 
hands were at work in the field, he came into it, 
accompanied by three friends of his, — Thompson, 
TVoodbridge, and Jones. They came up to where 
Randall was at work, and Cook ordered him to leave 
and 20 with them to the barn. He refused to £0 : 
whereupon he was attacked by the overseer and his 
companions, when he turned upon them, and laid them 
one after another prostrate before him. "Woodbridge 
drew out his pistol and fired at him, and brought him 
to the ground. The others rushed upon him with 
their clubs, and beat him over the head and face until 
they succeeded in tying him. He was then taken to a 
barn and tied to a beam. Cook gave him above one 
hundred lashes with a heavy cowhide, had his wounds 
washed with salt and water, and left him tied during 
the night. The next day, he was untied, and taken to 


a blacksmith's shop, and had a ball and chain attached 
to his leg. He was compelled to labor in the field, and 
perform the same amount of work other hands did. 

When the Doctor returned home, he was pleased to 
find that Eanclall had been subdued in his absence, 
and highly praised the overseer for his good qualities 
as a negro-breaker. 

The negro quarters were situated some distance from 
the master's mansion, or " great house," as it was 
called. The cabins were built of wood, with only one 
room, and no floor. The owner seldom provides bed 
and bedding for his slave, unless merely to give each 
one a coarse blanket ; and those who are so fortunate 
as to get more than this, think themselves luxurious 
livers. The blowing of the horn and the ringing of 
the bell were the signals for Dr. Young's slaves to 
start in tne morning to their daily toil, which lasted 
from twelve to fourteen hours. Being employed either 
as house servant, or in his master's medical depart- 
ment, William was exempt from the call of the horn 
and bell. Nevertheless, his life was a hard one. Near- 
ly related to the Doctor, Mrs. Young was always pun- 
ishing the young slave for some supposed offence, 
which, after all, was only because she felt angry and 
humiliated at the idea of having her husband's " negro 
relations " in her sight. The nearer a slave approaches 
an Anglo-Saxon in complexion, the more he is abused 
by both owner and fellow-slaves. The owner flogs 
him to keep him " in his place," and the slaves hate 
him on account of his being whiter than themselves, 
Thus the complexion of the slave becomes a crime, 


and he is made to curse his father for the Anglo-Saxon 
blood that courses through his veins. 

If there is one evil connected with the abominable 
system of slavery which should be loathed more than 
another, it is taking from woman the right of self- 
defence, and making her subject to the control of any 
licentious villain who may be able to purchase her 
person. But amalgamation is only one of the impure 
branches which flow from this poisonous stream. 



" Waft, waft, ye winds, his story, 
And you, ye waters, roll, 
Till, like a sea of glory, 

It spreads from pole to pole.'' 

On Dr. Young's leaving home the second time, to 
attend the State Legislature, William was taken from 
his master's office and placed under Cook, the negro- 
driver, to work in the field. Not more than twelve 
years of age, and of a tender constitution, he found his 
new situation a most unpleasant and difficult one to fill. 
Seeing William neatly dressed and doing light work 
about the office, the overseer had often expressed a wish 
to have the "white nigger" under his charge. "I 
will tan your yellow jacket for you," said the negro- 
driver, as William took his hoe and followed the other 
slaves to the field. It was w T ith pain that Elizabeth 
saw her son in the hands of this drunken man. Wil- 
liam had been in the field scarcely a week, when Cook, 
for a pretended offence, took the young slave to the 
barn, tied him up, and inflicted a severe whipping upon 
him. In vain the mother pleaded for her child, and 
reminded the overseer that the boy was too young to 
perform the heavy labors given to him. 

In punishing the slaves, the overseer w T as always 
inventing new modes of chastisement. On one occa- 
sion. Cook, in a fit of anger, because William did not 


keep up with the older hands in hoeing, gave the boy 
a flogging, and then took him into a pasture, where the 
sheep were grazing, and made him get down on his 
hands and knees in front of an old ram, noted for his 
butting qualities. As soon as the ram saw the boy in 
Re butting attitude, he prepared himself for a fight, 
and, squaring off, he gave a bleat, and sprang forward, 
hitting William in the forehead, and knocking him 
upon the ground. The wound inflicted upon the poor 
boy caused the blood to gush from his nose. The 
overseer, and a few of his friends who were present to 
see the fun, laughed heartily, and the boy was sent 
back to work. 

In the Doctor's absence, Cook ruled the slaves with 
an iron hand, using the negro-whip on all occasions 
where he was the least provoked. On the return of 
the Doctor from the Legislature, William was again 
removed from the field to his master's office. 

Dr. Young was, without doubt, one of the most reli- 
gious men south of ''Mason and Dixon's line." He 
had family worship every night and morning, and on 
Sabbath morning, he spent an hour in reading and 
explaining Scripture to the blacks. If he punished a 
slave, he did it religiously. Quotations from the Bible, 
and a moral lecture, always accompanied the whip. 
" Servants, obey your masters," was continually on 
the Doctor's tongue. " He that knoweth his master's 
will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many 
stripes," was a part of his moral lecture to his slaves. 



" Tell the man who dares to barter 
In his brother's flesh and blood, 
He has broken the high charter 
Of our common brotherhood ! " 

Dr. Young removed from the interior of Missouri, 
when William was thirteen years old, to St. Louis, 
where he purchased a farm of three thousand acres of 
land, within four miles of the city. Here he employed 
an overseer named Haskell, who was scarcely less cruel 
than Cook. William, however, was let out to Major 
Freeland, an inn-keeper in St. Louis. Freeland was 
from Virginia, and claimed to be one of the aristocracy 
of the Old Dominion. The Major was a horse-racer, 
gambler, cock-fighter, and was occasionally drunk, and 
would then rave about like a madman. When in these 
fits, he would take up a chair and throw it at any of 
the servants who came in his way. William had been 
with Freeland but a few weeks, when the Major tied 
the young slave up in the smoke-house, after whipping 
him severely, and caused him to be smoked with tobac- 
co, the boy sneezing, coughing and weeping during this 
fiendish act. 

William ran away, and went home and told his mas- 
ter of his ill treatment by Freeland. Instead of the 
Doctor sympathizing with his nephew, he flogged the 
boy, and sent him back to his employer. Fearing 


another punishment from the drunken inn-keeper, 
William ran away and remained in the woods. But 
there he was not long safe, for some negro-hunters, 
with their dogs, came along, and the animals were soon 
on the scent of the young fugitive, who was captured, 
after taking refuge in a tree, and again returned to his 
master. Major Freeland. William received another 
flogging, and after beincr once more smoked, was aeain 

CO O? O i o 

put to work. 

After remaining with this monster for some months, 
the young and friendless slave-hoy was hired out as a 
servant on one of the steamers running between St. 
Louis and Galena. Here he was first impressed 
with a love for freedom. A3 he saw others going 
from place to place, and using the liberty that God 
endowed every human being with, he pined to be 
as free as those who moved about him. Being at St. 
Louis on the Fourth of July, William had an opportu- 
nity of hearing an oration from the Hon. Thomas Hart 
Benton. The boy's young heart leaped with enthusi- 
asm as he listened to the burning eloquence of " Old 
Bullion.'' It is a dangerous thing to permit a slave to 
hear these July orations ; it kindles a feeling in favor 
of freedom which can never be effaced. It was so with 
William. i: We hold these truths to be self-evident: 
that all men are created equal; that they are endowed 
by their Creator with certain unalienable rights ; that 
among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happi- 
ness : that to secure these rights, governments are 
instituted among men, deriving their just powers from 
the consent of the governed/' 7 — said the Senator, in 


concluding his speech; and these words, quoted from 
our Declaration of Independence, were indelibly im- 
pressed on the heart of this uneducated boy. In his 
sleep, he dreamed of freedom; when awake, his thoughts 
were about liberty, and how he could secure it. 

From the moment that William heard the speech of 
Mr. Benton, he resolved that he would be free, and to 
this early determination, the cause of human freedom is 
indebted for one of its most effective advocates. 

At the close of the summer, the boy was again taken 
home to the Doctor's plantation, and put to work in the 
field under Haskell, the overseer. The change was so 
great, that William wilted down under the hot sun, and' 
the hard work given to him by the driver. The poor 
slave experienced all that the house servant must go 
through, on being transferred from the cabin of a 
steamer, or the master's mansion, to the rough labors 
of the field. 



" What ! mothers from their children riven ? 

"What ! God's own image bought and sold r 
. Americans to market driven, 

And bartered, as the brutes, for gold?" 

SPECULATION and mismanagement had so far reduced 
the Doctor's finances, that he found himself compelled 
to sell some of his slaves to repair his affairs, and 
Elizabeth. William's mother, was among the first that 
were sold. "William had three brothers, who, together 
with his mother, were taken to the St. Louis negro 
market, and sold to the highest bidder. The boys 
were purchased by a slave-trader, and sent off to the 
lower country; but the mother was more fortunate, 
and became the slave of Isaac Mansfield, a gentleman 
residing in the city of St. Louis. The last tidings 
that William had of his brothers was, that they had 
been bought by a planter, and sent to his farm on the 
Yazoo River. If still living, they are lingering out a 
miserable existence on a cotton, sugar, or rice planta- 
tion, in a part of the country where the life of the slave 
has no parallel in deeds of atrocity. Nothing can be 
worse than slavery in Louisiana and Mississippi, on the 
banks of the noblest river in the world. A ride down 
that beautiful stream on one of the western floating 
palaces, causes one's heart to ache at seeing humanity 
so degraded. The rich plantations, waving with green 


and golden crops of cane, are interspersed here and 
there by a cotton plantation, with intervals of untrod- 
den forests hanging over the banks, showing Nature in 
her most luxuriant state. Nothing can exceed the 
grandeur and beauty of the land thus cursed by the 
foul system of negro slavery. Truly may it be said, 
that this outrageous and unnatural institution has 
monopolized the best soil and finest climate in the New 



" For now the ripened cane 
Was ready for the knife, 
And not a slave could be spared to aid 
His mother or his wife." 

Ix the cotton districts, the picking season is always 
the most severe for the bondman, for when thej gather 
in the cotton, the slaves are worked from fifteen to 
twenty hours out of the twenty-four. The sugar-mak- 
ing season commences about the middle or last of Oc- 
tober, and continues from four to ten weeks, according 
to the season and other circumstances : but more espe- 
cially, the number of hands on the plantation, and the 
amount of sugar to be made. As soon as the cane is 
ready for harvesting, the grincling-mill is got in order, 
wood hauled, the boiling-house cleaned out, the kettles 
scoured, the coolers caulked, and the casks arranged to 
receive the sugar. Before the cane is gathered in, 
plants, or sprouts, as they are sometimes called, are 
secured for the next season. This is done by cutting 
cane and putting it in matelas, — or mattressing it, as 
it is commonly denominated. The cane is cut and 
thrown into different parcels in the field, in quantities 
sufficient to plant several acres, and so placed that the 
tops of one layer may completely cover and protect the 
stalks of another. "When the required amount is thus 
obtained, the whole gang of slaves is employed in cut- 


ting cane and taking it to the mill. The top is first 
cut from the cane, and then the stalks eat as close 
to the ground as possible, thrown into carts, or taken 
on the backs of mules to the grinding-house. As soon 
as it reaches the mill, it is twice passed between iron 
rollers, so that not a particle of juice is left in the 
stalk, the former passing into vats, or receivers, while 
the trash is thrown into carts, and conveyed from the 
mill and burned. After the juice is pressed from the 
cane, it is put into boilers, and transferred from one to 
another, until it reaches the last kettle, or teach, as it 
is termed. The sugar has then attained the granulat- 
ing point, and is thus conveyed into the coolers, which 
hold between two and three hogsheads. It is then 
removed to the draining-house, after remaining twenty- 
four hours in the coolers, and soon after is put into the 
hogsheads. Here it undergoes the process of draining 
for five or six days, and is then ready for the market. 
A second-rate sugar is always made, after the first- 
class is manufactured. 

During the whole of this process, the driver is never 
seen without a short-handled whip in his hand. The 
lash of the negro-whip is from four to six feet in 
length, made of cowhide, and sometimes wire plaited in 
with the leather. The handle of the whip, or the butt, 
is not unfrequently loaded or filled with lead. 

Such is the process through which the sugar has to 
pass before it finds its way upon the tables of the peo- 
ple of the free States. William shrank back at the 
thought of his brothers dragging out their lives upon a 
cotton or sugar plantation. 



" A bitter smile was on her cheek, 
And a dark flash in her eye." 

After remaining on the farm for a few weeks, under 
the iron rule of the overseer, William was again hired 
out to the proprietors of the steamer " Enterprise." 
On the second trip of the boat's return from Galena, 
she took on board, at Hannibal, a noted slave-trader, 
named Walker, who had with him between fifty and 
sixty slaves, consisting chiefly of men and women 
adapted to field service. In this gang of slaves, how- 
ever, was a young woman, apparently about twenty 
years of age, with blue eyes, straight brown hair, 
prominent features, and perfectly white, with no indi- 
cation whatever that a drop of African blood coursed 
through her veins. In describing this girl, in the 
published narrative of his life, Mr. Brown says : — 
" The woman attracted universal attention; but it was 
not so much the fairness of her complexion that created 
such a sensation among those who gazed upon her finely 
chiselled features ; it was her almost unequalled beauty. 
She- had been on board but a short time, before both 
ladKes and gentlemen left their easy chairs to view the 
white slave. Throughout the day, the topic of conver- 
sation was the beautiful slave girl." This young 
woman was the daughter of a slaveholder, by one of his 


mulatto servants. Much anxiety was felt among the 
passengers to learn the history of this beautiful and 
innocent creature. The trader kept near her all the 
time. On the arrival of the boat at St. Louis, the 
gang, including the white slave, was removed to 
another steamer, bound for New Orleans, and the 
speculator, no doubt, on reaching the place of his des- 
tination, sold this American daughter for a high price, 
on account of her personal charms. 

The steamer soon after being laid up for the re- 
mainder of the season, William was once more taken 
home, and employed as a house servant and carriage- 
driver. It was while acting in this capacity, that a 
deed of cruelty was committed, which is graphically 
described by Mr. Brown in his published narrative. 
While driving his master's carriage to church one 
Sabbath morning, he saw Mr. D. D. Page, with whom 
he was well acquainted, chasing one of his slaves round 
the yard, cutting him at every jump with a long negro- 
whip. Mr. Page, seeing the truthful charges of Mr. 
Brown published, employed the Rev. Dr. A. Bullard, a 
pro-slavery, negro-hating clergyman, formerly of the 
North, but now of St. Louis, to refute the charge ; 
which the Doctor attempted to do, in a series of articles 
published in the columns of Northern pro-slavery pa- 
pers of his own denomination. But the Presbyterian 
D.D., instead of mending the matter for his patron, 
made it worse, and caused the public to regard himstlf 
as a miserable tool. Mr. Page has since failed in his 
banking business, and swindled his creditors out of 
large sums ; and has no doubt lost the misplaced con- 
fidence of his renegade theological friend. 


Haskell, the overseer, experienced religion about this 
time, and joined the Duncards, a religious sect located 
at the Southwest, who baptise by immersion, dipping 
their converts three times. The overseer being an un- 
principled scamp, noted for his drinking propensities, 
and for cheating all with whom he dealt, a large num- 
ber of persons assembled to witness the baptismal cer- 
emony performed on the negro-driver. Some of the 
blacks are very superstitious, and are of opinion that 
the Lord will answer their prayers, in any case when 
they ask for the extermination of bad men. So. the 
day that the overseer was led to the pond to have his 
sins washed out, not less than nine of the oldest slaves 
went on their knees, and prayed that the cruel negro- 
driver might not come out of the water alive. Among 
the crowd that had come together was old Peter Swite, 
who kept a dram shop, and who complained that Has- 
kell owed him several dollars for drink, but which the 
overseer denied. As John Mason, the minister, pulled 
the negro-driver up, after dipping him the third time, 
old Peter took his pipe from his mouth, and cried out, 
at the top of his voice, "Douce him again, John! 
He 's a dirty dog ; I know him well ; he never pays 
his debts. 7 ' So the minister, either forgetting himself, 
or really thinking his new convert needed the fourth 
dip, put the sinner once more under the water. This 
last plunge came near drowning him, for the man of 
God was much exhausted, and was scarcely able to lift 
the negro-driver out of the water, and the latter had 
taken two or three hearty drinks before he was drawn 
to the surface. Although the prayers of the slaves 


were not answered, they nevertheless took great credit 
to themselves for the misstep of the minister. That 
night, the slaves on the whole plantation were in the 
highest glee. The opossums that had been lying in 
the frost were taken down and baked with sweet pota- 
toes, and every voice ascended to God, either in prayer 
or in song, for the half success of their prayers at the 



" Give me my child ! " a mother cried, 
"My sweet, my lovely boy — 
(" Give me my child ! " the rocks replied) — 
Or else my life destroy ! " 

Want of money induced Dr. Young to hire "William 
out again, and this time the young slave was placed in 
the hands of Walker, the negro-trader of whom we 
have made mention in a preceding chapter. The spec- 
ulator had noticed William's activity and usefulness as 
a waiter on the steamboat, and being always on the 
look-out for valuable slaves, called on Dr. Young, and 
offered a high price for the piece of property. The 
Doctor, however, declined selling; whereupon, the 
trader, wanting a man to look after his slaves that he 
took to market, resolved to hire William for the period 
of one year, with the hope of buying him at the expi- 
ration of the term. Walker was an uncouth, ill-bred 
man, with little or no education. Before embarking as 
a negro-driver, he had been a dray-driver in St. Louis, 
and had earned, by his own hard labor, the capital with 
which he commenced in trade. Money was the only 
God he worshipped, and he knelt at no altar but that 
erected at the expense of suffering humanity. William 
shuddered at the idea of having; such a man for a mas- 
ter, but there was no alternative. 

In no situation could he have been placed to give 


him an opportunity of witnessing more scenes of cru- 
elty and outrage than this. The trader had a number 
of slaves on hand, and immediately prepared to start 
with his human cattle for the New Orleans market. 
Between sixty and seventy men and women, chained in 
pairs, with here and there a mother with a young child 
unchained, made up the first coffle. The speculator 
advertised in the Natchez, Vicksburg and New Orleans 
papers, that he would be there at a given time, with a 
lot of healthy negroes, between fifteen and twenty-five 
years of age. He seldom, however, took down a gang 
of slaves without having some who were further ad- 
vanced in years. 

Soon after leaving St. Louis, William had to com- 
mence preparing the slaves for the market. The old 
men's gray hairs were plucked from their heads, and 
their whiskers shaved off clean ; and where the white 
hairs were too numerous, hair dye was used to bring 
about the desired color. These old men and women 
were also told how old they were to be, when undergo- 
ing an examination by those who might wish to pur- 

Not less than four lots of slaves were purchased by 
this monster in human shape, and resold further South, 
during the year that William w T as with this "soul- 
driver." On the arrival of the trader at New Orleans 
with his merchandise, swarms of planters and small 
speculators might be seen making their way to Mr. 
Walker's slave-pen. Once, when marching his gang 
of slaves from St. Charles to St. Louis, by land, the 
trader had among them a woman, with a sick child, 


which, cried during the most of the first dav. Walker 
repeatedly told the mother if she did not stop the child, 
he would. On the second morning, as they were leav- 
ing the tavern where they had put up over night, the 
infant again commenced crying. The speculator at 
once took the child from its mother's arms, turned to 
the landlady, who was standing in the doorway, and 
said, — " Here, madam, permit me to present this little 
nigger to you ; it makes such a noise that it affects my 
nerves." The landlady received the babe from the 
hands of the negro-trader with a smile, and said. — 
"lam exceedingly obliged to you, sir, indeed. I take 
this present as a token of your kindness and generos- 
ity." Frantic with, grief, the mother fell upon her 
knees before the inhuman trader, and besought him to 
give her back her child, promising that she would keep 
it from crying. Walker bade the woman return to the 
gang with the other slaves, or he would flog her 
severely. But not until the heavy negro-whip was 
applied to her shoulders did the almost heart-broken 
mother leave her dear little child. A few days after, 
and while on the steamer going to the Xew Orleans 
market, this outraged American woman threw herself 
from the deck of the boat into the waters of the Mis- 
sissippi, never to rise again. 

This heartless, cruel, ungodly man, who neither 
loved his Maker nor feared Satan, was a fair repre- 
sentative of thousands of demons in human form that 
are engaged in buying and selling God's children. 
The more William saw of slavery, while with Walker, 
the more he hated it, and determined to free himself 


from its chains. The love of freedom is a sentiment 
natural to the human heart, and the want of it is felt 
by him who does not possess it. He feels it a reproach, 
and with this sting, this wounded pride, hating degra- 
dation, and looking forward to the cravings of the 
heart, the enslaved is always on the alert for an oppor- 
tunity to escape from his oppressors and to avenge his 
wrongs. What greater injury and indignity can be 
offered to man, than to make him the bond-slave of his 



Si The hounds are baying on my track, 
O, Christian ! do not send me back ! " 

After a year spent in the employment of the slave- 
driver, Walker, William was sent home to his master, 
where new scenes were opened to him. Although 
hard pressed for money, Dr. Young declined selling 
William to the slave-speculator, for he no doubt had 
some conscientious scruples against allowing his young 
kinsman to be taken to the cotton fields of the far 
South. He therefore ga^e his nephew a note, permit- 
ting him to find a purchaser who would pay five hun- 
dred dollars for him. With this document, the young 
slave set out for St. Louis, about four miles distant 
from the farm. Elizabeth, William's sister, who had 
been sold a few days previous, was still in the St. 
Louis jail ; and on arriving in the city, his first impulse 
was to visit her, to whom he was tenderly attached. 
He called at the prison, and after being twice refused 
admission, succeeded in seeing his sister for the last 
time. She was sold to a slave-trader, and taken to the 
Southern market, and was never heard of again by 

From the jail, the poor young slave went to his 
mother, and persuaded her to fly with him to Canada. 
With scarcely food enough for three days, William and 


his mother crossed the river one dark night, and 
started for a land of freedom, with no guide but the 
North Star. Again and again they looked back at the 
lights, as they wended their Tray from the city, not 
knowing whether they would succeed in their arduous 
undertaking, or be arrested and taken back. They 
well knew that the runaway slave could find no sympa- 
thy from the people of Illinois, and therefore did not 
travel during the day. Night after night did these 
two fugitives come out of their hiding-place, and with 
renewed vigor wend their way northward. Xo one 
can imagine how wearily the hours passed during the 
days they remained in the woods, waiting for night to 
overshadow them. Most truly has the poet entered 
into the slave's feelings, when he says. — 

" Star of the North ! while blazing day 
Pouts round me its full tide of light, 
And hides thy pale but faithful ray, 
I, too, lie hid, an'" 3 , long for night." 

The anxiety of the fugitives may be conceived from 
the following remarks of Mr. Brown, in his published 
narrative: — '-'' As we travelled towards a land of lib- 
erty, my heart would at times leap for joy: at other 
times, being, as I was, almost continually on my feet, 
I felt as though I could go no further. But when I 
thought of slavery, with its democratic negro-whips, 
its republican chains, its well-trained bloodhounds, its 
pious, evangelical slaveholders, — when I thought of all 
this American hypocrisy, false democracy and religion 
id me. and the prospect of liberty before me, I 


was encouraged to press forward : my heart was strength- 
ened, and I forgot that I was either tired or hungry/'' 
But the fugitives were not destined to realize their 
hearts' fondest wishes. On missing the runaways, the 
slaveholders put advertisements in the St. Louis news- 
papers, which had an extensive circulation in Illinois, 
besides sending printed handbills, by mail, to the post- 
masters in the towns through which it was expected the 
fugitives would pass. On the tenth day, William and 
his mother determined to travel by day, thinking that 
they were out of the danger of being apprehended. 
Thev had, however, been on the road but a short time, 
when they were overtaken by three men and arrested. 
None but one who has been a slave, and made the 
attempt to escape, and failed, can at all enter into the 
feelings of the fugitive who is caught and returned to 
the doom from which he supposed he had escaped. 
William and his mother were carried back to* St. Louis, 
and safely lodged in prison until their masters should 
take them out. 



" Throw open to the light of day 
The bondman's cell, and break away 

The chains the State has bound on him ! " 

As the slave becomes enlightened, and shows that he 
knows he has a right to be free, his value depreciates. 
A slave who has once ran away is shunned by the 
slaveholders, just as the wild, unruly horse is shunned 
by those who wish an animal for trusty service. The 
slave who is caught in the attempt to escape is pretty 
sure of being sold and sent off to the cotton, sugar, 
or rice fields of Georgia, or other slave-consuming 
States. Every thing is done to keep the slave in igno- 
rance of his rights. But God has planted a spark in 
the breast of man, that teaches him that he was not 
created to be the slave of another. Truth is omnipo- 
tent, and will make its way even to the heart of the 
most degraded. How well has the author of the 
" Pleasures of Hope ?? portrayed the progress of truth ! 

" Where barbarous hordes on Scythian mountains roam, 
Truth, mercy, freedom, yet shall find a home ; 
Where'er degraded nature bleeds and pines, 
Prom Guinea's coast to Siber's dreary mines, 
Truth shall pervade the unfathomed darkness there, 
And light the dreadful features of despair. 
Hark ! the stern captive spurns his heavy load, 
And asks the image back that Heaven bestowed ; 
Fierce in his eye the fire of valor burns, 
And, as the slave departs, the man returns." 


The truth which had broken in upon William's mind 
made him a dangerous person in the midst of the slave 
population of the South, and he scarcely hoped to find 
a home any where short of a cotton plantation. Dr. 
Young, as soon as he was informed that his slave had 
been caught, had him taken to the farm and well secured 
until he could sell him. A wish on the part of the 
Doctor to get a good price for William, induced him 
to conceal the slave's attempt to escape. This was very 
fortunate for William, for in a few days he was sold to 
Mr. Samuel Willi, a merchant in St. Louis. But 
William's mother was not so fortunate, for she was 
placed in the hands of the slave-trader, and carried to 
the slave market of Xew Orleans. How pathetically 
Mr. Brown has described the parting scene with his 
mother ! " It was about ten o'clock in the morning," 
says he, " when I went on board the steamboat where 
my mother had been taken, with other slaves, bound for 
the lower country. I found her chained to another 
woman. On seeing me, she dropped her head upon 
her bosom, her emotion being too deep for tears. I 
approached her and fell upon my knees, threw my 
arms around her neck, and mingled my tears with hers, 
that now began to flow. Feeling that I was to blame 
for her being in the hands of the slave-speculator, I 
besought my mother to forgive me. With that gene- 
rosity which was one of her chief characteristics, and 
that love which seldom forsakes a mother, she said, — 
i My child, you are not to blame. You did what 
you could to free me and yourself; and in this, you 
did nothing more than your duty. Do not weep 


for me. I am old. and cannot last much longer. I 
feel that I must soon go home to my heavenly Mas- 
ter, and then I shall be out of the power of the slave- 
dealer/ I could hear no more; my heart struggled to 
free itself from the human frame. The boat bell rang, 
as a signal for all who were not going with the boat to 
get on shore. Once more I embraced my mother, and 
she whispered in my ear. — [My child, ice mint now 
"part, to meet no more on this side the grave. You 
have always said you would not die a slave : I be- 
seech of you to keep this promise. Try, my dear 
son. to get your freedom! ' The tolling of the bell 
informed me that I must go on shore. I stood and 
witnessed the departure of all that was clear to me on 

This separation of the mother from the son inspired 
the latter with renewed determination to escape ; but 
this resolve he kept locked up in his own heart. 



" O, what is life if love be lost, 
If man 's unkind to man ? " 

"While employed on board the steamer "Otto, ,! 
where his new master placed him. William had his 
own feelings often lacerated, by seeing his fellow-crea- 
tares carried in large gangs down the Mississippi to the 

Southern market. These dark and revolting pictures 
of slavery frequently caused him to question the refine- 
ment of feeling and goodness of heart so bountifully 
claimed by the Anglo-Saxon, and, in the language of 
the poet, he would think to himself. — 

M Say, flows not in the negro's vein, 

ITnchecked and free, without control, 
A tide as pure, and clear from stain, 

As feeds and -warms the white man's sonl : " 

Continued intercourse with educated persons, and 
meeting on the steamer so many travellers from the 
free States, caused the slave to feel more keenly his 
degraded and unnatural situation. He gained much 
information respecting the North and Canada, that was 
valuable to him in his final escape. 

In his written narrative. Mr. Brown says. — "The 
anxiety to be a freeman would not let me rest day nor 
night. I would think of the Northern cities I had 
heard so much about. — of Canada, where many of my 


acquaintances had found a refuge from their tyrannical 
masters. I would dream at night that I was on British 
soil, a freeman, and on awaking, weep to find myself a 

* I would think of Victoria's domain, 

In a moment I seemed to be there ; 
But the fear of being taken again, 
Soon hurried me back to despair/ 

Thoughts of the future, and my heart yearning for 
liberty, kept me always planning to escape.' 5 

After remaining more than a year the property of 
Mr. Willi, William was sold to Capt. Enoch Price, 
also a resident of St. Louis. This change was the 
turning-point in the young slave's life. 



" Give me liberty or give me death ! " 

Capt. Price, who became the last purchaser of 
William, was the owner of several steamers, and a 
partner in a firm in St. Louis, engaged in the business 
of purchasing and shipping produce to the Southern 
States. The young slave had been with the Prices 
scarcely three months, when the family resolved 
upon a visit to New Orleans, and it was settled 
that William should accompany them, as a servant. 
In due, Capt. Price, with his wife and daughter, 
attended by their new chattel, set out on their journey, 
in one of the Captain's boats, the steamer " Chester." 
The boat, instead of returning to St. Louis, took in a 
cargo at New Orleans for Cincinnati, and the Captain 
and his family concluded to extend their visit to the 
latter place. It was the middle of December when the 
boat left New Orleans, with a large number of passen- 
gers and a heavy load of freight. The Prices had 
some fears about bringing the slave to the frontiers of 
the free States, and Mrs. Price sounded William, to see 
if he had any thoughts about freedom. As a matter of 
course, the young slave expressed a wish to return to 
St. Louis as soon as possible, and seemed to dislike the 
idea of going to a free State. Well pleased with his 
seeming indifference about liberty, and not being able 


to dispense with his services, the family determined to 
take William to Cincinnati with them. 

In due time, the boat arrived at the place of her des- 
tination, landed her passengers, and discharged her 
cargo. Twenty years ago, there was little or no anti- 
slavery feeling in the southern part of the State of 
Ohio. Few persons thought it wrong to catch a runa- 
way slave and return him to his master, and a fugitive 
ran as much risk in attempting to escape through the 
Buckeye State, at that time, as he would in the adjoin- 
ing State of Kentucky. William, however, had re- 
solved to make the attempt, without any regard to 
consequences. In his published narrative he says: — 
" During the last night that I served in slavery, I did 
not close my eyes a single moment in sleep. When 
not thinking of the future, my mind dwelt on the past. 
The thought of a dear mother, and an affectionate sister 
and three brothers, yet living under the dominion of 
whips and scourges, caused me to shed many tears. If 
I could have been assured that they were dead, I should 
have felt satisfied. But I imagined I saw my mother 
in the cotton field, followed by the merciless task- 
master. I thought of the probability of my sister and 
brothers being in the hands of negro-drivers or specu- 
lators, subjected to all the cruelties that the hateful 
institution allows them to inflict ; and these thoughts 
made me feel very sad indeed. ;? 

At last the trying moment came. It was the first 
day of January, 1834, when, without a shilling in his 
pocket, and no friend to advise him, William quitted 
his master's boat, and, taking the North Star for his 


guide, started for Canada. During fifteen nights did 
this half-clad, half-starved fugitive urge his weary 
limbs to carry him on towards a land of freedom. 
With regard to these eventful days, Mr. Brown says in 
his narrative, — "Supposing every person to be my 
enemy, I was afraid to appeal to any one, even for a 
little food, to keep body and soul together. As I 
pressed forward, my escape to Canada appeared certain, 
and this feeling gave me a light heart, for 

1 Behind I left the whips and chains, 
Before me were sweet Freedom's plains.' 

While on my journey at night, and passing farms. I 
would seek a corn-crib, and supply myself with some 
of its contents. The next day, while buried in the 
forest, I would make a fire and roast my corn, and 
drink from the nearest stream. One night, while in 
search of corn, I came upon what I supposed to be a 
hill of potatoes, buried in the ground for want of a 
cellar. I obtained a sharp-pointed piece of wood, with 
which I dug away for more than an hour, and on gain- 
ing the hidden treasure, found it to be turnips. How- 
ever, I did not dig for nothing. After supplying my- 
self with about half-a-dozen of the turnips, I again 
resumed my journey. This uncooked food was indeed 
a great luxury, and* gave strength to my fatigued 
limbs. The weather was very cold, — so cold, that it 
drove me one night into a barn, where I laid in the hay 
until morning. A storm overtook me when about a 
week out. The rain fell in torrents, and froze as it 
came down. My clothes became stiff with ice. Here 


again I took shelter in a barn, and walked about to 
keep from freezing. Nothing but the fear of being 
arrested and returned to slavery prevented me. at this 
time, seeking shelter in some dwelling. Even when 
in this forlorn condition, I would occasionally find my- 
self repeating — 

' I 'U be free ! I '11 be free ! and none shall confine 
With fetters and chains, this free spirit of mine ; 
From my youth have I vowed in my God to rely, 
And, despite the oppressor, gain freedom or die ! ' 

Dreary were the hours that I spent while escaping 
from America's greatest evil." 



" O, then, be kind, whoe'er thou art 

That breathest mortal breath, 

And it shall brighten all thy life, 

And gild the vale of death." 

So fearful are the tyrants at the South that their 
victims will recognise themselves as men, that they 
•will not permit them to have a double name. Jim, 
Peter, Henry, &c. &c, is all a slave is known by. 
The subject of this memoir was not an exception to 
this rule. When William was six or seven years old, 
Dr. Young, having no children of his own, adopted a 
nephew, a son of his brother Benjamin. This boy's 
name was William, also, and not wishing to have the 
two names confounded, orders were given that the col- 
ored nephew's name should be changed, and accordingly 
he was afterwards called " Sanford." This name Wil- 
liam always disliked, and resolved that he would retake 
his former name should he succeed in escaping to Can- 

After having been fifteen days on his journey, and 
having passed three days without food, and, withal, 
suffering much from illness, William determined to 
seek shelter and protection. " For this purpose," says 
he, "I placed myself behind some fallen trees near 
the main road, hoping to see some colored person, 


thinking I should be more safe under the care of one 
of my own color. Several farmers with their teams 
passed, but the appearance of each one frightened me 
out of the idea of asking for assistance. After lying 
on the ground for some time, with my sore, frost-bit- 
ten feet benumbed with cold, I saw an old, white- 
haired man, dressed in a suit of drab, with a broad- 
brimmed hat, walking along, leading a horse. The 
man was evidently walking for exercise. I came out 
from my hiding-place and told the stranger I must die 
unless I obtained some assistance. A moment's con- 
versation satisfied the old man that I was one of the 
oppressed, fleeing from the house of bondage. From 
the difficulty with which I walked, the shivering of 
my limbs, and the trembling of my voice, he became 
convinced that I had been among thieves, and he 
acted the part of the Good Samaritan. This was the 
first person I had ever seen of the religious sect called 
4 Quakers.'" 

At the farm-house of this good man, where many a 
poor fugitive slave had before found a resting-place for 
his jaded feet, William was treated with the kindest 
care, until he was so far recovered as to resume his 
journey. The members of no religious society are 
more noted for their good works than the Friends. 
They are distinguished for the kindness with which 
they always receive the runaway slave. Having, many 
years ago, as a religious society, condemned slavery, 
and disfellowshipped slaveholders, they occupy a posi- 
tion before the world that few other sectarian bodies 
can claim. Never before having met with whites to 


sympathise with him, and treat him as a man, William 
was overwhelmed with surprise at the interest the 
Quaker and his family took in him. 

" How softly on the bruised heart 
A word of kindness falls, 
And to the dry and parched soul 
The moistening teardrop calls." 

When once more in a situation to travel, the good 
people began to fit out the fugitive with clothes, so that 
he would be in a better condition to reach the " other 
side of Jordan." The Quaker's name was Wells 
Brown ; and finding that his guest had but one name, 
he gave the fugitive his name, as well as a covering for 
his body. So, when the runaway quitted the Quaker 
settlement, he left under the name of William Wells 



"Where'er a single human breast 
Is crushed by pain and grief, 
There I would ever be a guest, 
And sweetly give relief." 

The kind and benevolent Quakers would gladly 
have given their fugitive guest a home during the 
remainder of the cold weather, but they were afraid of 
his being sought after and traced to their house by 
the man-hunters. After being supplied with clothes 
and some food, Mr. Brown again started on his journey 
towards Canada. Although assured by his friends 
that he could travel with a degree of safety in the clay, 
the fugitive felt that the night was the best time for 
him, and therefore hid in the woods during the day. 
and journeyed when others were asleep. Soon after, 
he arrived at Cleveland, on the banks of Lake Erie. 
The mind can scarcely picture one in a more forlorn 
condition than was William Wells Brown on reach- 
ing Cleveland. Besides having had nothing to eat for 
the forty-eight preceding hours, and travelling through 
the woods and marshes, and over the frozen roads, he 
had worn out his shoes and clothes, so that he made a 
sad appearance. The. lake was partly frozen, so that 
vessels did not run, and all hope of crossing to Canada 
was at an end. Wearied by his long journey on foot, 
Mr. Brown did not feel himself able to go on by the 


way of Buffalo or Detroit, and lie at once resolved to 
hunt up quarters, and remain in Cleveland until the 
opening of navigation on the lakes. With this deter- 
mination, he visited every dwelling, until he found a 
man who offered to keep him if he would work for his 
board. Here he sawed wood, and performed all the 
labor required of him, for a shelter from the inclem- 
ency of the winter weather. 

While working at this place, the fugitive found an 
opportunity to saw a cord of wood for another family, 
for which he received the sum of twenty-five cents. 
With one half of this money, he purchased a spelling- 
book, and with the other he bought candy, with which 
he hired his employer's little boys to teach him to 

Some weeks after, Mr. Brown obtained a situation at 
the Mansion House, kept by Mr. E. M. Segar. But 
on all occasions, he held on to his spelling-book, keep- 
ing it in his bosom, so that it might be handy. In this 
manner was the foundation laid for an education which 
has enabled him to be of use to his race. 

While at Cleveland, Mr. Brown saw, for the first 
time, an anti-slavery paper. It was the Genius of 
Universal Emancipation, edited by Benjamin Lundy. 

Instead of going to Canada, on the opening of nav- 
igation in the spring, he got a situation on board the 
steamer "Detroit. 57 Here he worked during the sea- 
son of 1834. But the fugitive was destined to undergo 
more hardships, for at the close of navigation, the 
captain ran away with the money, and Mr. Brown, with 
others, had to go without his pay. Added to this, he 


had married during the autumn, and had taken upon 
himself the duties and responsibilities of a husband. 

Thus defrauded of the avails of his nine months' 
labor, the fugitive went in search of employment for 
the winter. The following extract from an article 
written by Mr. Brown will give some idea of the suc- 
cess he met with: — " In the autumn of 1834, having 
been cheated out of the previous summer's earnings by 
the captain of the steamer in which I had been em- 
ployed running away with the money, I was, like the 
rest of the men, left without any means of support 
during the winter, and therefore had to seek employ- 
ment in the neighboring towns. I went to the town of 
Monroe, in the State of Michigan, and while going 
through the streets, looking for work, I passed the 
door of the only barber in the town, whose shop ap- 
peared to be filled with persons waiting to be shaved. 
As there was but one man at work, and as I had, while 
employed on the steamer, occasionally shaved a gentle- 
man, who could not perform that office himself, it oc- 
curred to me that I might get employment here as a 
journeyman barber. I therefore made immediate appli- 
cation for work, but the barber told me he did not need 
a hand. However, I was not to be put off so easily, 
and after making several offers to work cheap, I frankly 
told him that if he would not employ me, I would get 
a room near to him, and set up an opposition establish- 
ment. This threat made no impression on the barber, 
and as I was leaving, one of the men who were waiting 
to be shaved said, ' If you want a room in which to 
commence business, I have one on the opposite side of 


the street.' This man followed me out. we went over, 
and I looked at the room. He strongly urged me to 
set up, at the same time promising to give me his influ- 
ence. I took the room, purchased an old table and two 
chairs, got a pole with a red stripe painted around it, 
and the next clay opened, with a-sign over the door, — 
c Fashionable Hair-Dresser from New York — Empe- 
ror of the West.' I need not add that my enterprise 
was very annoying to the ' shop over the way ; ' espe- 
cially my sign, which happened to be the most exten- 
sive part of the concern. Of course, I had to tell all 
who came in that my neighbor on the opposite side did 
not keep clean towels, that his razors were dull, and, 
above all, that he had never been to New York to see 
the fashions. Neither had I ! In a few weeks, I had 
the entire business of the town, to the great discomfit- 
ure of the other barber. 

" At this time, money matters in the Western States 
were in a sad condition. Any person who could raise 
a small amount of money was permitted to establish a 
bank, and allowed to issue notes for four times the 
sum raised. This being the case, many persons bor- 
rowed money merely long enough to exhibit to the 
Bank Inspectors, then the borrowed money was return- 
ed, and the bank left without a dollar in its vaults, if, 
indeed, it had a vault about its premises. The result 
was, that banks were started all over the Western 
States, and the country flooded with worthless paper. 
These were known as ' wild-cat banks.' Silver coin 
being very scarce, and the banks not being allowed to 
issue notes for a smaller amount than one dollar, seve- 


ral persons put out notes from six to seventy-five cents 
in value. These were called c shin-plasters,' The 
c shin-plaster ' was in the shape of a promissory note, 
made payable on demand. I have often seen persons 
with large rolls of these bills, the whole not amounting 
to more than five dollars. Some weeks after I had 
commenced business on my 'own hook/ I was one 
evening very much crowded with visitors, and while 
they were talking over the events of the day, one of 
them said to me, — ' Emperor, you seem to be doing a 
thriving bnsiness : you should do as other men of busi- 
ness, issue your shin-plasters. J This, of course, as it 
was intended, created a laugh ; but with me it was no 
laughing matter, for from that moment, I began to 
think seriously of becoming a banker. I accordingly 
went, a few days after, to a printer, and he, wishing to 
get a job of printing, urged me to put out my notes, 
and showed me some specimens of engravings that he 
had just received from Detroit. My head being 
already filled with the idea of a bank, I needed but 
little persuasion to set the thing finally afloat. Before 
I left the printer, my notes were partly in type, and I 
studying how I should keep the public from counter- 
feiting them. 

"The next day, my ' shin-plasters ' were handed to 
me. the whole amount being twenty dollars, and, after 
being duly signed, were ready for circulation. At 
first, my notes did not. take well; they were too new, 
and viewed with a suspicious eye. But, through the 
assistance of my customers, and a good deal of exertion 
on my own part, my bills were soon in circulation ; 


and nearly all the money received in return for them 
was spent in fitting up and decorating my shop. Few 
bankers get through this world without their difficul- 
ties, and I was not to be an exception. A short time 
after my money had been out. a party of young men, 
either wishing to pull down my vanity, or to try the 
soundness of my bank, determined to give it : a run.' 
After collecting together a number of my bills, they 
came, one at a time, to demand other money for them : 
and I, not being aware of what was going on, was 
taken by surprise. As I was sitting at my table, 
strapping some new razors I had just got with the 
avails of my 'shin-plasters,' one of the men entered 
and said. ' Emperor, you will oblige me if you will 
give me some other money for these notes of yours. ; 
I immediately cashed the notes with some of the most 
worthless of the : wild-cat' money that I had on hand, 
but which was a lawful tender. The young man had 
scarcely left when a second appeared, with a similar 
amount, and demanded payment. These were paid, 
and soon a third came, with his roll of notes. I paid 
these with an air of triumph, though I had but half a 
dollar left. I now began to think seriously what I 
should do, or how I should act, provided another de- 
mand should be made. "While I was thus engaged in 
thought, I saw a fourth man crossing the street, with a 
handful of notes, evidently my l shin-plasters. ' I in- 
stantaneously shut the door, and. looking out of the 
window, said, ' I have closed business for the day; come 
to-morrow and I will see you/ On looking across the 
street, I saw my rival standing in his shop door, grin- 


ning and clapping his hands at my apparent downfall. 
I was completely 'done Brown' 1 for the day. How- 
ever, I was not to be 'used up' in this way; so I 
escaped by the back door, and went in search of my 
friend who had first suggested to me the idea of issu- 
ing notes. I found him, and told him of the difficulty 
I was in, and wished him to point out the way by which 
I could extricate myself. He laughed heartily, and 
then said, ' You must do as all bankers do in this part 
of the country. 7 I inquired how they did, and he said, 
'When your notes are brought to you, you must re- 
deem them, and then send them out and get other 
money for them, and with the latter you can keep 
cashing your own shin-plasters.' This was a new idea 
to me. I immediately commenced putting in circula- 
tion the notes which I had just redeemed, and my 
efforts were crowned with so much success, that before 
I slept that night, my ' shin-plasters " were again in 
circulation, and my bank once more on a sound basis.'* 7 
The next spring, Mr. Brown again found employ- 
ment on the lake, and from this time until the winter 
of 1843, he held a lucrative situation on one of the lake 
steamboats. Having felt the iron of slavery in his own 
soul, the self-emancipated slave was always trying to 
help his fellow-fugitives, many of whom passed over 
Lake Erie, while escaping from the Southern States to 
Canada. In one year alone, he assisted sixty fugitives 
in crossing to the British Queen 7 s dominions. Many 
of these escapes were attended with much interest. On 
one occasion, a fugitive had been hid away in the house 
of a noted Abolitionist in Cleveland for ten days, while 


his master was in town, and watching every steamboat 
and vessel that left the port. Several officers were also 
on the watch, guarding the house of the Abolitionist 
every night. The slave was a young and valuable 
man, of twenty-two years of age, and very black. The 
friends of the slave had almost despaired of getting 
him away from his hiding-place, when Mr. Brown was 
called in, and consulted as to the best course to be 
taken. He at once inquired if a painter could be found 
who would paint the fugitive white. In an hour, by 
Mr. Brown's directions, the black man was as white, 
and with as rosy cheeks, as any of the Anglo-Saxon 
race, and disguised in the dress of a woman, with a 
thick veil over her face. As the steamer's bell was 
tolling for the passengers to come on board, a tall lady, 
dressed in deep mourning, and leaning on the arm of a 
gentleman of more than ordinary height, was seen en- 
tering the ladies' cabin of the steamer "North Ameri- 
ca," who took her place with the other ladies. Soon 
the steamer left the wharf, and the slave-catcher and 
his officers, who had been watching the boat since her 
arrival, went away, satisfied that their slave had not 
escaped by the " North America," and returned to 
guard the house of the Abolitionist. After the boat 
had got out of port and fairly on her way to Buffalo, 
Mr. Brown showed the tall lady to her state-room. 
The next morning, the fugitive dressed in his planta- 
tion suit, snapped his fingers at the stars and stripes, 
bade his native land farewell, crossed the Niagara 
river, and took up his abode on the soil of Canada, 
where the American bondman is free, 



" The weakest and the poorest may 
This simple pittance give, 
And bid delight to withered hearts 
Return again and live. ,, 

Wm. Wells Brown early became a reader of the 
Liberator, Emancipator, Human Rights, and other 
papers, published daring the first stages of the Anti- 
Slavery discussion, and consequently took great interest 
in the movement intended to abolish the cruel system 
under which his own relations, in common with others 
that were near and dear to him, were held. As one of 
the pioneers in the Temperance cause, among the col- 
ored people in Buffalo, he did good service. He re- 
garded temperance and education as the means best 
calculated to elevate the free people of color, and to 
place them in a position where they could give a 
practical refutation to the common belief, that the 
negro cannot attain to the high stand of the Anglo- 
Saxon. But Buffalo being a place through which 
many fugitives passed while on their way to Canada, 
Mr. Brown spent much time in assisting those who 
sought his aid. His house might literally have been 
called the u fugitive's house." As Niagara Falls were 
only twenty miles from Buffalo, slaveholders not un- 
frequently passed through the latter place attended by 
one or more slave servants. Mr. Brown was always on 


the look-out for such, to inform them that they were 
free by the laws of New York, and to give them 
necessary aid. The case of every colored servant who 
was seen accompanying a white person was strictly 
inquired into. 

Mr. Brown's residence also became the home of Anti- 
Slavery agents, and lecturers on all reformatory move- 
ments. After investigating every phase of Anti- Sla- 
very, he became satisfied that the course pursued by 
Wm. Lloyd Garrison and his followers was the best 
calculated to free the slave from his chains, and he has 
ever since been an advocate of the doctrines put forth 
by the great pioneer of the Abolition cause. 



M Where'er a human voice is heard 

In witness for the true and right, 
Where'er a human heart is stirred 

To mingle in Faith's glorious fight, 
That voice revere, that heart sustain, 
It shall not be to thee in vain ! " 

Having some three months leisure time during the 
winter, Mr. Brown began, in the autumn of 1843, to 
speak on the subject of American Slavery. Not satis- 
fied with merely gaining his own freedom, he felt it to 
be his duty to work for others; and, in the language of 
the poet, he would ask himself — 

M Is true freedom but to break 
Fetters for our own dear sake, 
And, with leather hearts, forget, 
That we owe mankind a debt r 
No ! true freedom is to share 
All the chains our brothers wear, 
And with heart and hand to be 
Earnest to make others free." 

With this feeling, he went forth to battle against 
slavery at the South, and its offspring, prejudice against 
colored people, at the North. Buffalo and its vicinity 
was at that time one of the worst places in the State, 
with the exception of New York city, for colored per- 
sons. Hatred to the blacks had closed all the schools 


against colored children, and the negro-pew was the 
only place in the church where the despised race were 
permitted to have a seat. Mr. Brown not only com- 
batted this unnatural prejudice in Buffalo, but also in 
the surrounding towns. On one occasion, he visited 
the town of Attica, to give a lecture on s.. and 

so great was the hatred to the negro, that after the 
meeting was over, he looked in vain for a place to 
lodge for the night. After visiting every tavern in the 
village, he returned to the vestry of the church, and, 
entering it, remained until morning. The night was a 
bitter cold one, and Mr. Brown walked the aisle from 
eleven at night till six the next morning. One y 
after, he lectured in the same place, and the little seed 
left there, twelve months before, had taken root, and 
Mr. Brown found more than one person willing to take 
him in. 

If there is one thing at the North which seems more 
cruel and hateful than another, connected with Ameri- 
can slavery, it is the way in which colored persons are 
treated by the whites. The withering influence which 
this hatred exerts against the elevation of the free col- 
ored people, can scarcely be imagined. "Wherever the 
black man makes his appearance in the United States, 
he meets this hatred. In some sections of the country 
it is worse than in others. As you advance nearer to 
the slave States, you feel this prejudice the more. 
Twenty years ago, if colored persons travelled by 
steamboat, they were put on the deck ; if by coach, on 
the outside ; if by railway, in the Jim Crow car. 
Even the respectable eating saloons have been closed 


against colored persons. In New York and Philadel- 
phia, the despised race are still excluded from, most 
places of refreshment. To the everlasting shame of 
the Church, she still holds on to this unchristian prac- 
tice of separating persons on account of their complex- 
ion. In the refined city of Boston, there was a church, 
as late as 1847, deeded its pews upon condition that no 
colored person should ever be permitted to enter them ! 
Most of these churches have a place set off in the gal- 
lery, where the negro may go if he pleases. A New 
York D.D., while on a visit to England, some years 
since, was charged by a London divine with putting his 
colored members in the furthest part of the gallery. 
The American clergyman, with a long face and upturn- 
ed eyes, exclaimed, "Ah! my dear brother, I think 
more of my colored members than I do of the whites, 
and therefore I place them in the top of the house, so 
as to get them nearer to heaven.' 7 Charles Lenox 
Remond, during the many years that he has labored in 
the An ti- Slavery cause, has, in all probability, experi- 
enced greater insults and more hardships than any other 
person of color. To hear him relate what x he has 
undergone, while travelling to and from the places of 
his meetings, makes one's blood chill. 

This pretended fastidiousness on the part of the 
whites has produced some of the most ridiculous scenes. 
William Wells Brown, while travelling through 
Ohio in 1844, went from Sandusky to Republic, on the 
Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad. On arriving at 
Sandusky, he learned that colored people were not 
allowed to take seats in the cars with whites, and that, 


as there "was no Jim Crow car on that road, blacks 
were generally made to ride in the baggage-car. Mr. 
Brown, however, went into one of the best passenger 
cars, seated himself, crossed his legs, and looked as 
unconcerned as if the car had been made for his sole 
use. At length, one of the railway officials entered the 
car, and asked him what he was doing there. "I am 
going to Republic," said Mr. Brown. "You can't 
ride here," said the conductor. " Yes I can," returned 
the colored man. "No you can't," rejoined the rail- 
way man. "Why?" inquired Mr. Brown. "Be- 
cause we don't allow niggers to ride with white peo- 
ple," replied the conductor. "Well, I shall remain 
here," said Mr. Brown. "You will see, pretty soon, 
whether you will or not," retorted the railway man, 
as he turned to leave the car. By this time, the pas- 
sengers were filling up the seats, and every thing being 
made ready to start. After an absence of a few min- 
utes, the conductor again entered the car, accompanied 
by two stout men, and took Mr. Brown by the collar 
and pulled him out. Pressing business demanded 
that Mr. Brown should go, and by that train; he 
therefore got into the freight car, just as the train was 
moving off. Seating himself on a flour barrel, he 
took from his pocket the last number of the Liberator , 
and began reading it. On went the train, making its 
usual stops, until within four or five miles of Re- 
public, when the conductor, (who, by-the-by, was the 
same man who had moved Mr. Brown from the passen- 
ger car) demanded his ticket. "I have no ticket," 
returned he. " Then I will take your fare," said the 


conductor. u How much is it?" inquired Mr. Brown. 
" One dollar and a quarter," was the answer. " How 
much do you charge those who ride in the passenger 
cars ? " inquired the colored man. " The same," said 
the conductor. " Do you suppose that I will pay the 
same price for riding up here in the freight car, that 
those do who are in the passenger car?" asked Mr. 
Brown. " Certainly," replied the conductor. " "Well, 
you are very much mistaken, if you think any such 
thing," said the passenger. " Come, black man, out 
with your money, and none of your nonsense with 
me," said the conductor. " I won't pay you the 
price you demand, and that's the end of it," said Mr. 
Brown. " Don 't you intend paying your fare? " in- 
quired the conductor. "Yes," replied the colored 
man; "but I won J t pay you a dollar and a quarter." 
" What do you intend to pay, then?" demanded the 
official. " I will pay what 's right, but I don 't intend 
to give you all that sum." "Well, then," said the 
conductor, " as you have had to ride in the freight car, 
give me one dollar and you may go." "I won 't do 
any such thing," returned Mr. Brown. "Why won't 
you ? " inquired the railway man. " If I had come in 
the passenger car, I would have paid as much as others 
do; but I won 't ride up here on a flour barrel, and pay 
you a dollar." " You think yourself as good as white 
people, I suppose?" said the conductor; and his eyes 
flashed as if he meant what he said. "Well, being 
you seem to feel so bad because you had to ride in the 
freight car, give me seventy-five cents, and I '11 say no 
more about it," continued he. "No. I won't. If I 


had been permitted to ride with the other passengers, I 
would pay what you first demanded; but I won "t pay 
seventy-five cents for riding up here, astride a flour 
barrel, in the hot sun." "Don't you intend paying 
any thing at all ? *' asked the conductor. "Yes, I will 
pay what is right." " Give me half a dollar, and I 
will say no more about it" " No, I won %" returned 
the other; "I shall not pay fifty cents for riding in a 
freight car." " What will you pay, then 1 " demanded 
the conductor. : • What do you charge per hundred on 
this road?" asked Mr. Brown. "Twenty-five cents," 
answered the conductor. "Then I will pay you thirty- 
seven and a half cents, " said the passenger, "for I 
weigh just one hundred and fifty pounds.''* lt Do you 
expect to get off by paying that trifling sum]'' "I 
have come as freight, and I will pay for freight, and 
nothing more," said Mr. Brown. The conductor took 
the thirty-seven and a half cents, declaring, as he left 
the car, that that was the most impudent negro that ever 
travelled on that road. 



" For 't is the mind that makes the body rich, 
And as the sun breaks through the darkest clouds, 
So honor peereth in the meanest habit." 

The subject of our memoir no sooner felt himself 
safe from the pursuit of the Southern bloodhounds, 
than he began to seek for that which the system of sla- 
very had denied him, while one of its victims. During 
the first five years of his freedom, his chief companion 
was a book, — either an arithmetic, a spelling-book, a 
grammar, or a history. Though he never went through 
any systematic course of study, he nevertheless has 
mastered more, in useful education, than many who 
have had better privileges. 

After lecturing in the Anti- Slavery cause for more 
than five years, Mr. Brown was invited to visit Great 
Britain. He at first declined; but being urged by 
many friends of the slave in the Old World, he at last, 
in the summer of 1849, resolved to go. As soon as it 
was understood that the fugitive slave was going abroad, 
the American Peace Society elected him as a delegate 
to represent them at the Peace Congress at Paris. 
Without any solicitation, the Executive Committee of 
the American Anti-Slavery Society strongly recom- 
mended Mr. Brown to the friends of freedom in Great 
Britain. The President of the above Society gave him 


private letters to some of the leading men and women 
in Europe. In addition to these, the colored citizens 
of Boston held a meeting the evening previous to his 
departure, and gave Mr. Brown a public farewell, and 
passed resolutions commending him to the confidence 
and hospitality of all lovers of liberty in the mother- 

Such were the auspices under which this self-edu- 
cated man sailed for England on the 18th of July, 
1849. Without being a salaried agent, or any prom- 
ise of remuneration from persons either in Europe or 
America, the subject of our narrative arrived at Liver- 
pool, after a passage of a few hours less than ten days. 



" Erin, my country ! o'er the swelling wave, 
Join in the cry, ask freedom for the slave ! " 

" Natives of a land of glory, 

Daughters of the good and brave, 
Hear the injured negro's story, 

Hear, and help the kneeling slave ! " 

From Liverpool, Mr. Brown went to Dublin, where 
lie was warmly greeted by the Webbs, Haughtons, 
Aliens, and others of the slave's friends in Ireland. 
Her Brittanic Majesty visiting her Irish subjects at 
that time, the fugitive had an opportunity of witnessing 
Royalty in all its magnificence and regal splendor. 
The land of Burke, Sheridan and O'Connell would not 
permit the American to leave without giving him a 
public welcome. A large and enthusiastic meeting 
held in the Rotunda, and presided over by James 
Haughton, Esq., gave Mr. Brown the first reception 
which he had in the Old World. 

After a sojourn of twenty days in the Emerald Isle, 
the fugitive started for the Peace Congress which was 
to assemble at Paris. The Peace Congress, and espe- 
cially the French who were in attendance at the great 
meeting, most of whom had never seen a colored per- 
son, were somewhat taken by surprise on the last day, 
when Mr. Brown made a speech. " His reception/' 


said La Presse, " was most flattering. He admirably 
sustained his reputation as a public speaker. His 
address produced a profound sensation. At its con- 
clusion, the speaker was warmly greeted by Victor 
Hugo, President of the Congress, Richard Cobden, 
Esq., and other distinguished men on the platform. 
At the soiree given by M. de Tocqueville, the Minister 
for Foreign Affairs, the American slave was received 
with marked attention. " More than thirty of the Eng- 
lish delegates at the Congress gave Mr. Brown invita- 
tions to visit their towns on his return to England, 
and lecture on American Slavery. 

Having spent a fortnight in Paris and vicinity, 
viewing the sights, he returned to London. George 
Thompson, Esq., was among the first to meet the fugi- 
tive on his arrival at the English metropolis. A few 
days after, a very large meeting, held in the spa- 
cious Music Hall, Bedford Square, and presided over 
by Sir Francis Knowles, Bart., welcomed Mr. Brown 
to England. Many of Britain's distinguished public 
speakers spoke on the occasion. George Thompson 
made one of his most brilliant efforts. 

This flattering reception gained for the fugitive 
pressing invitations from nearly all parts of the United 
Kingdom. At the city of Worcester, His Honor the 
Mayor presided over the meeting, and introduced Mr. 
Brown as " the honorable gentleman from America." 
In the city of Norwich, the meeting was held in St. 
Andrew's Hall, one of the oldest and most venerated 
buildings in the Kingdom, and the Chairman on the oc- 
casion was John Henry Gurney, Esq., the distinguished 


banker, and son of the late Joseph John Gurney. 
At Newcastle-on-Tyne, two meetings were held. His 
Honor the Mayor presided over one, and Sir John 
Fife over the other. Here the friends of freedom gave 
Mr. Brown a public soiree, at which eight hundred sat 
down to tea. After tea was over, the Mayor arose, 
and, on behalf of the meeting, presented to Mr. Brown 
a purse containing twenty sovereigns, accompanied with 
the following Address: — "This purse, containing twen- 
ty sovereigns, is presented to Wm. Wells Brown by 
the following ladies and some other friends of the slave 
in Newcastle, as a token of their high esteem for his 
character and admiration of his zeal in advocating the 
claims of three millions of his brethren and sisters 
in bonds in the Southern States of America. They 
also express their sincere wish that his life may be 
long spared to pursue his valuable labors — that suc- 
cess may soon crown his efforts and those of his fellow- 
Abolitionists on both sides of the Atlantic, and his 
heart be gladdened by the arrival of the happy period 
when the last shackle shall be broken which binds the 
limbs of the last slave" 

At Glasgow, four thousand persons attended the 
meeting at the City Hall, which was presided over by 
Alexander Hastie, Esq., M. P. Meetings given to wel- 
come Mr. Brown were also held at Edinburgh, Perth, 
Dundee, Aberdeen, and nearly every city or town in the 
Kingdom. At Sheffield, James Montgomery, the poet, 
attended the meeting, and invited the fugitive to visit 
him at his residence. The following day, Mr. Brown 
went, by invitation, to visit the silver electro-plate 


manufactory of Messrs. Broadhead and Atkins. While 
going through the premises, a subscription was set on 
foot by the workmen, and on the fugitive's entering the 
counting-room, the purse was presented to him by the 
designer, who said that the donors gave it as a token of 
their esteem for Mr. Brown. 

At Bolton, a splendid soiree was given to him, and 
the following Address presented : — 

"Dear Friend and Brother, — We cannot per- 
mit you to depart from among us without giving expres- 
sion to the feelings which we entertain towards yourself 
personally, and to the sympathy which you have awa- 
kened in our breasts for the three millions of our 
sisters and brothers who still suffer and groan in the 
prison-house of American bondage. You came among 
us an entire stranger ; we received you for the sake of 
your mission ; and having heard the story of your per- 
sonal wrongs, and gazed with horror on the atrocities 
of slavery, as seen through the medium of your touch- 
ing descriptions, we are resolved henceforward, in reli- 
ance on divine assistance, to render what aid we can to 
the cause which you have so eloquently pleaded in our 
presence. We have no words to express our detestation 
of the crimes which, in the name of Liberty, are com- 
mitted in the country which gave you birth. Language 
fails to tell our deep abhorrence of the impiety of those 
who, in the still more sacred name of Religion, rob im- 
mortal beings, not only of an earthly citizenship, but 
do much to prevent them from obtaining a heavenly 
one : and as mothers and daughters, we embrace this 
opportunity of giving utterance to our utmost indigna- 


tion at the cruelties perpetrated upon our sex by a 
people professedly acknowledging the equality of all 
mankind. Carry with you,- on your return to the land 
of your nativity, this our solemn protest against the 
wicked institution which, like a dark and baleful cloud, 
hangs over it; and ask the unfeeling enslavers, as best 
you can, to open the prison-doors to them that are 
bound, and let the oppressed go free. Allow us to 
assure you, that your brief sojourn in our town has 
been to ourselves, and to vast multitudes, of a charac- 
ter long to be remembered; and when you are far 
removed from us, and toiling, as we hope you may long 
be spared to do, in this righteous enterprise, it may be 
6ome solace to your mind to know that your name is 
cherished with affectionate regard, and that the blessing 
of the Most High is earnestly supplicated in behalf of 
yourself and family, and the cause to which you have 
consecrated your distinguished talents." [Signed by 
200 ladies.] 

In the spring of 1850, Mr. Brown was publicly wel- 
comed at a large meeting held in the Broadmead 
Rooms, at Bristol, and presided over by the late John 
B. Estlin, Esq., one of the most liberal-minded and 
philanthropic men of any country; a man who never 
appeared better satisfied than when doing good for 
others, and whose loss has been so universally lamented 
by the genuine friends of freedom in both hemispheres. 
But should we undertake to give a detailed account" of 
the various meetings called to receive the American 
fugitive slave, it would occupy more space than we can 
think of giving in this volume. 



*' 'Tis a glorious thing to send abroad a soul as free as air, 
To throw aside the shackles which sectarian bondmen wear." 

The following extract from Mr. Brown's " Sketches 
of Places and People Abroad, " will show that all was 
not sunshine with him while in Europe. It was not 
the first time that forgetfulness for himself, and a desire 
to add to the comfort of others, placed him in an un- 
pleasant position. The incident related below occurred 
during the first three months of the fugitive's sojourn 
in England : — 

11 Having published the narrative of my life and 
escape from slavery, and put it into the booksellers' 
hands, and seeing a prospect of a fair sale, I ventured 
to take from my purse the last sovereign, to make up a 
small sum to remit to the United States, for the sup- 
port of my daughters, who were at school there. Be- 
fore doing this, however, I had made arrangements to 
attend a public meeting in the city of "Worcester, at 
which the Mayor was to preside. Being informed by 
the friends of the slave there, that I would, in all 
probability, sell a number of copies of my book, and 
being told that Worcester was only ten miles from 
London, I felt safe in parting with all but a few shil- 
lings, feeling sure that my purse would soon be again 
replenished. But you may guess my surprise when I 


learned that Worcester was above a hundred miles from 
London, and that I had not retained money enough to 
defray my expenses there. In my haste and wish to 
make up ten pounds to send to my children, I had for- 
gotten that the payment for my lodgings would be 
demanded before I left town. Saturday morning came; 
I paid my lodging bill, and had three shillings and 
fourpence left. Out of this sum I was to get three 
dinners, as I was only served with breakfast and tea at 
my lodgings. Nowhere in the British Empire do the 
people witness such dark days as in London. It was 
on Monday morning in the fore part of October, as the 
clock on St. Martin's church was striking ten, that I 
I left my lodgings and turned into the Strand. The 
street lamps were all burning and the shop lamps were 
all lighted, as if day had not made its appearance. 
This great thoroughfare, as usual at this time of the 
day, was thronged with business men going their way, 
and women sauntering about for pleasure, or for want 
of something to do. I passed down the Strand to 
Charing Cross, and looked in vain to see the majestic 
statue of Nelson upon the top of the great shaft. The 
clock on St. Martin's church struck eleven, but my 
sight could not penetrate through the dark veil that 
hung between its face and me. In fact, day had been 
completely turned into night; and the brilliant lights 
from the shop windows, almost persuaded me that 
another day had not appeared. A London fog cannot 
be described. To be appreciated, it must be seen, or 
rather, felt, for it is altogether impossible to be clear 
and lucid on such a subject. It is the only thing 


which can give you an idea of what Milton meant when 
he talked of darkness visible. There is a kind of 
light, to be sure, but it only serves as a medium for a 
series of optical illusions, and for all useful purposes of 
vision, the deepest darkness that ever fell from the 
heavens is infinitely preferable. A man perceives a 
coach a dozen yards off, and a single stride brings him 
under the horses' feet ; he sees a gas light faintly 
glimmering (as he thinks) at a distance, but scarcely 
has he advanced a step or two towards it, when he 
becomes convinced of its actual station by finding his 
head rattling against the post; and as for attempting, 
if you once get mystified, to distinguish one street 
from another, it is ridiculous to think of such a thing. 
Turning, I retraced my steps, and was soon passing 
through the massive gates of Temple Bar, wending my 
way to the city, when a beggar boy at my heels accost- 
ed me for a half-penny to buy bread. I had scarcely 
served the boy, when I observed near by, and standing 
close to a lamp-post, a colored man, and from his gen- 
eral appearance, I was satisfied that he was an Ameri- 
can. He eyed me attentively as I passed him, and 
seemed anxious to speak. When I had got some dis- 
tance from him, his eyes were still upon me. No 
longer able to resist the temptation to speak to him, I 
returned, and, commencing conversation with him, 
learned a little of his history, which was as follows : — 
He had, he said, escaped from slavery in Maryland, 
and reached New York ; but not feeling himself secure 
there, he had, through the kindness of the captain of 
an English ship, made his way to Liverpool, and not 


being able to get employment there, he had come up 
to London. Here he had met with no better success, 
and having been employed in the growing of tobacco, 
and being unaccustomed to any other kind of work, he 
could not get labor in England. I told him he had 
better try to get to the West Indies, but he informed 
me that he had not a single penny, and that he had had 
nothing to eat that day. By this man's story I was 
moved to tears, and, going to a neighboring shop, I 
took from my purse my last shilling, changed it, and 
gave this poor fugitive one half. The poor man burst 
into tears, and exclaimed, ' You are the first friend I 
have met in London.' I bade him farewell, and left 
him with a feeling of regret that I could not place him 
beyond the reach of want. I went on my way to the 
city, and while going through Cheapside, a streak of 
light appeared in the east, that reminded me that it 
was not night. In vain I wandered from street to 
street, with the hope that I might meet some one who 
would lend me money enough to get to Worcester. 
Hungry and fatigued, I was returning to my lodgings, 
when the great clock on St. Paul's Cathedral, under 
whose shadow I was then passing, struck four. A 
stroll through Fleet street and the Strand, and I was 
again pacing my room. 

" On my return, I found a letter from Worcester 
had arrived during my absence, informing me that a 
party of gentlemen would meet me the next day on 
reaching the place, and saying, ' Bring plenty of 
books, as you will doubtless sell a large number.' 
The last sixpence had been spent for postage stamps, 


in order to send off some letters to other places; and I 
could not even stamp a letter in answer to the last one 
from Worcester. The only vestige of money about me 
was a smooth farthing, that a little girl had given me 
at a meeting in Croyden, saying, ' This is for the 
slaves.' I was three thousand miles from home, with 
but a single farthing in my pocket ! Where on earth 
could a man be more destitute for the want of money 
than in the Great Metropolis? The cold hills of the 
Arctic regions have not a more inhospitable appearance 
than London to the stranger with an empty pocket. But 
whilst I felt depressed at being in such a sad condition, 
I was conscious that I had done right in remitting 
the last ten pounds to America, for the support of those 
whom God had committed to my care. I had no friend 
in London to whom I could apply for aid. My friend 

Mr. T was out of town, and I did not know his 

address. The dark day was rapidly passing away; the 
clock in the hall had struck six; I had given up all 
hopes of reaching Worcester the next day, and had 
just rung the bell for the servant to bring me some tea, 
when a gentle tap at the door was heard; the servant 
entered, and informed me that a gentleman below wish- 
ed to see me. I bade her fetch a light, and ask him 
up. The stranger was my young friend, Frederick 
Stephenson, son of the excellent minister of the Bor- 
ough-Road Chapel. I lectured in this chapel a few 
days previous, and this young gentleman, with more 
than ordinary zeal and enthusiasm for the cause of 
bleeding humanity and respect for me, had gone among 
his father's congregation and sold a number of copies 


of my book, and had come to bring me the money. 
I wiped the silent tears from my eyes, as the young 
man placed the thirteen half-crowns in my hand. I 
did not let him know under what obligation I was to 
him for this disinterested act of kindness. Like the 
man who called for bread and cheese, when feeling in 
his pocket for the last threepence with which to pay 
for it, found a sovereign that he was not aware he pos- 
sessed, countermanded the order for lunch, and told 
them to bring him the best dinner they could get, so 
I told the servant, when she brought up tea, that I had 
changed my mind, and should go out to dine. With 
the means in my pocket of reaching Worcester the 
next day, I sat down to dinner at the Adelphi with a 
good cut of roast beef before me, and felt myself once 
more at home. Thus ended a dark day in London." 



11 Take the spade of perseverance, 
Dig the field of progress wide, 
Every bar to true instruction 
Carry out, and cast aside." 

It was the intention of Mr. Brown, when he went to 
England, not to remain there more than one year at the 
furthest. But he was, by the laws of the United 
States, the property of another, and the passage of the 
Fugitive Slave Bill laid him liable to be arrested 
whenever he should return to his native land. Wen- 
dell Phillips, Esq., advised the fugitive, for his own 
safety, not to return. Mr. Brown therefore resolved 
to remove his two daughters to England, so that he 
could see to their education. In July, 1851, the girls 
arrived in Liverpool, in the Royal British Mail Steamer 
"America/'' under the charge of the Rev. Charles 
Spear, the distinguished and philanthropic friend of 
the prisoner. Even here, the fugitive was not without 
persecution in the person of his children, for Mr, 
Lewis, the Company's agent in Boston, would not re- 
ceive them unless they were entered on the passenger's 
list as servants. The only reason assigned for this 
was their being colored! Thus the vile institution 
which had driven Mr. Brown into exile, followed his 
children on board a steamer over which the British flag 


Soon after the arrival of his daughters, Mr. Brown 
placed them in one of the best seminaries in France, 
where they encountered no difficulty on account of tteir 
complexion. The entire absence of prejudice against 
color in Europe is one of the clearest proofs that the 
hatred here to the colored person is solely owing to the 
overpowering influence of slavery. Mr. Brown's daugh- 
ters, after remaining in France one year, were removed 
to the Home and Colonial School in London, the finest 
female educational college in Great Britain. Here, as 
well as in the French school, the girls saw nothing to 
indicate that the slightest feeling of ill-will existed on 
the part of the students towards them, because of their 



" Methinks I hear a tuneful voice 
Chiming afar, o'er land and sea, 
The sun of freedom wakes ! — rejoice ! 
Thy bonds are broken — thou art free ! " 

In the winter of 1850, William and Ellen Craft, 
two fugitive slaves, arrived in England, and being in a 
strange land, and without the means of support, applied 
to Mr. Brown, who was just on the eve of making an 
anti-slavery tour through Scotland. Mr. Brown at 
once wrote to the Crafts to join him. These two inter- 
esting fugitives were born and brought up in Macon, 
Ga. To make their slaves more valuable, owners some- 
times have them taught trades. A man who under- 
stands a good trade will sell for three or four hundred 
dollars more in the market. "William Craft, having 
learned the trade of a cabinet maker, was able to earn 
considerable money for himself during hours when he 
was not required to work for his owner : and slavehold- 
ers always encourage their servants to labor, and get 
their own clothes, and other necessaries of life, because 
all that the slave gains in this way is so much saved 
by the master. William Craft did more than to get 
clothes for himself. In the course of five years, he 
laid aside one hundred and fiftv dollars. William be- 
came acquainted with Ellen, a slave girl owned by Dr. 


Collins, and residing in the same town. Like many of 
the slaves at the South, Ellen was as white as most 
persons of the clear Anglo-Saxon origin. Her fea- 
tures were prominent, hair straight, eyes of a light 
hazel color, and no one on first seeing the white slave 
would suppose that a drop of African blood coursed 
through her veins. With the permission of their own- 
ers, William and Ellen were united in marriage, after 
the fashion of the slaves. But both of these persons 
had long been lamenting their sad condition, and Were 
only waiting for an opportunity of escaping from the 
house of bondage. It is usual, among what are called 
good slaveholders, to give their servants the Christ- 
mas week as a time of rest and pleasure. Such was 
the custom of the owners of William and Ellen. As 
the Christmas of 1848 approached, the Crafts, instead 
of studying how they should best spend their time in 
pleasure, began maturing a plan of escape. "I don 't 
think this is a good half dollar," said William, as 
he finished counting his money late one night. c ' Still, " 
continued he, "I shall have no trouble in passing it." 
; <If some persons had your money, they would have 
a jolly time this Christmas," remarked Ellen. "I 
wish we could get our freedom with it," replied the 
husband. " Now, William," said the wife, " listen to 
me, and take my advice, and we shall be free in less 
than a month." " Let me hear your plans, then," 
said William. "Take part of your money and pur- 
chase me a good suit of gentlemen's apparel, and 
when the white people give us our holiday, let us go 
off to the North, instead of spending our time in 


pleasure. I am white enough to go as the master, and 
you can pass as my servant." "But you are not tall 
enough for a man," said the husband. " Get me a pair 
of very high-heeled boots, and they will bring me up 
more than an inch, and get me a very high hat, then 
I'll do," rejoined the wife. "But then, my dear, 
you would make a very boyish looking man, with no 
whiskers or moustache," remarked William. li I could 
bind up my face in a handkerchief," said Ellen, " as if 
I was suffering dreadfully from the toothache, and 
then no one would discover the want of beard." "What 
if you were called upon to write your name in the 
books at hotels, as I saw my master do when travel- 
ling, or were asked to receipt for any thing?" "I 
would also bind up my right hand and put it in a sling, 
and that would be an excuse itself for not writing." 
"I fear you could not carry out the deception for so 
long a time, for it must be several hundred miles to 
the free States," said William, as he seemed to despair 
of escaping from slavery by following his wife ? s plan. 
"Come, William," entreated his wife, "don't be a 
coward ! Get me the clothes, and I promise you we 
shall both be free in a few days. You have money 
enough to fit me out and to pay our passage to the 
North, and then we shall be free and happy." This 
appeal was too much for William to withstand, and he 
resolved to make the attempt, whatever might be the 

Permission having been obtained from their master, 
William and Ellen went to spend their Christmas on 
Dr. Collins' s farm, twelve miles from Macon. It was 


understood that the slaves were to start on their journey 
on the 24th of December. 1848, and to return to their 
employer on the day after Christmas. At the appoint- 
ed time, instead of going to the farm, the husband and 
wife went to the railway depot, and took the six o'clock 
train for Philadelphia. Dressed in her new suit, with 
her hat of the latest fashion, and high-heeled boots, 
with a pair of spectacles, she had rather a collegiate 
appearance. Under the assumed name of William 
Johnson, she took her seat in a first-class car, while 
William, with his servant's ticket, entered the Jim 
Crovj car. At Savannah, the fugitives took a steam- 
boat for Charleston, and from thence, by railway and 
steamboat, they arrived at Philadelphia in four days. 
Many thrilling incidents occurred during their journey. 
At Charleston, Mr. Johnson stopped at the best hotel, 
and was not a little surprised to find himself seated 
near the Hon. John C. Calhoun at the dinner table. 
Both at Eichmond and Washington, the fugitives came 
very near being detected. But the most amusing inci- 
dent that happened during this novel journey was Mr. 
Johnson 1 s making the acquaintance of a white family, 
who were also coming Xorth. On the second day of 
the journey, a well-dressed old gentleman, accompa- 
nied by his two daughters, both unmarried, but marri- 
ageable, entered the car in which Mr. Johnson was, 
and took seats a short distance from him. The old 
gentleman, being rather communicative, soon entered 
into conversation with the young man in spectacles. 
" You appear to be an invalid, ; ' said the gray-haired 
gentleman, as he looked earnestly into the face of Mr. 


Johnson. "Yes," replied the other, "I have long 
been afflicted with inflammatory rheumatism." " Ah ! 
I know what that is, and can heartily sympathize with 
you," returned the old man. From the time of this 
conversation, both father and daughters appeared to 
take great interest in the young invalid. At every 
depot where they took refreshment, "William acted his 
part as servant admirably. He waited on the old gen- 
tleman and his daughters, as well as on his own master, 
and by his politeness and attention attracted the notice 
of all. " That is a valuable servant of yours," said 
the old gentleman to Mr. Johnson^ as William passed 
through the cabin of the steamer, while on the way 
from Savannah to Charleston. " Yes, sir, he is a boy 
that I am very much attached to," returned the young 
man. " Good negroes are valuable appendages," said 
the old man, yawningly, as he pulled his gold watch 
from his pocket to see the time. As the train approach- 
ed Richmond, the old gentleman expressed great regret 
that they were to lose the company of their new ac- 
quaintance. "I am also sorry that we are to part," 
remarked Mr. Johnson. It was then discovered that 
Miss Henrietta, the oldest of the young ladies, seemed 
to have more interest in the young man than one would 
entertain for a mere acquaintance. "We are very 
much fatigued with this long journey," said the old 
gentleman, "and I am sure you must be tired; why 
won't you stop with us and rest yourself for a few 
days? My wife, knowing that you have been our 
travelling companion, will be glad to welcome you, and 
my daughter Henrietta here will be delighted." Miss 


Henrietta, feeling that this gave her an opportunity to 
speak, said, ' 4 Do, Mr. Johnson, stop and regain your 
strength. We have some pretty walks about Rich- 
mond, and I shall be so pleased to show them to you." 
The young invalid found that this was carrying the 
joke too far, and began to regret his intimate acquaint- 
ance with the young lady. However, he gave, as an 
excuse for declining the invitation, that urgent business 
demanded his immediate presence in Philadelphia, and 
promised them he would pay them a visit on his return 
to Georgia. 

William and Ellen Craft, on their arrival in Phila- 
delphia, committed themselves to the care of Mr. 
Brown, who was on a lecturing tour through Pennsyl- 
vania, and he brought them on to Boston. The Fugi- 
tive Slave Law drove them to England, where they 
again joined their old friend. Through Mr. Brown's 
influence, an interest was created for William and 
Ellen in England, and they were placed in a school, 
where they remained two years. In his " Sketches of 
Places and People Abroad," Mr. Brown describes an 
interview between Ellen Craft and Lady Byron as 
follows : — 

" Some months since, a lady, apparently not more 
than fifty years of age, entered a small dwelling on the 
estate of the Earl of Lovelace, situated in the county 
of Surry. After ascending a flight of stairs and pass- 
ing through a narrow passage, she found herself in a 
small but neat room, with plain furniture. On the 
table lay copies of the Liberator. Near the window 
sat a young woman, busily engaged in sewing, with a 


spelling-book lying open on her lap. The light step of 
the stranger had not broken the silence, so as to announce 
the approach of any one, and the young woman still 
sat at her task, unconscious that any one was near. 
A moment or two, and the lady was observed. The 
student hastily arose and apologized for her apparent 
inattention. The stranger was soon seated, and in con- 
versation with the young woman. The lady had often 
heard the word l slave,' and knew something of its ap- 
plication, but had never before seen one of her own 
sex who had actually been born and brought up in a 
state of chattel slavery; and the one in whose company 
she was now was so white, and had so much the ap- 
pearance of a well-bred and educated lady, that she 
could scarcely realize that she was in the presence of 
an American slave. For more than an hour, the illus- 
trious lady and the poor exile sat and carried on a most 
familiar conversation. The thrilling story of the fugi- 
tive slave often brought tears to the eyes of the stran- 
ger. 0, how I would that every half-bred, aristocratic, 
slaveholding, woman-whipping, negro-hating woman of 
America could have been present and heard what passed 
between these two distinguished persons ! They would 
for once have seen one who, though moving in the 
most elevated and aristocratic society of Europe, felt it 
an honor to enter the small cottage, and take a seat by 
the side of a poor hunted and exiled American fugitive 




Yet press on ! 

For it shall make you mighty among men ; 
And from the eyrie of your eagle thought, 
Yon shall look do^vn on monarchs ! " 

In 1852, Mr. Brown found, from the shortness of 
the lecturing season, which in England lasts only from 
November to May, and its furnishing a precarious 
means of living, that he must adopt some other mode 
of providing support for himself and his daughters, and 
therefore, through the solicitation of some of his lite- 
rary friends, commenced writing for the English press. 
Not having received a classical education, he had often 
to re-write his articles. His contributions were mainly 
on American questions. For instance, his articles on 
the death of Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, the return 
of Anthony Burns, were gladly received by the Lon- 
don press, and the fugitive was liberally paid for his 
labors. The writer of this has known Mr. Brown to 
be engaged all night, after the arrival of an American 
mail, in writing for a morning newspaper. In the 
autumn of 1852, he published his " Three Years in 
Europe,*' which paid him well. The criticisms on this 
work brought the fugitive prominently before the pub- 
lic, and gave him a position among literary men never 
before enjoyed by any colored American. The London 


Morning Advertiser -, in its review, said: — "This 
remarkable book of a remarkable man cannot fail to 
add to the practical protests already entered in Britain 
against the absolute bondage of three millions of our 
fellow-creatures. The impressions of a self-educated 
son of slavery, here set forth, must hasten the period 
when the senseless and impious denial of common 
claims to a common humanity, on the score of color. 
shall be scouted with scorn in every civilized and Chris- 
tian country. And when this shall be attained, among 
the means of destruction of the hideous abomination, 
his compatriots will remember with respect and grat- 
itude the doings and sayings of William Wells Brown. 
The volume consists of a sufficient variety of scenes, 
persons, arguments, inferences, speculations and opin- 
ions, to satisfy and amuse the most exigeant of those 
who read pour se desennuyer ; while those who look 
deeper into things, and view with anxious hope the 
progress of nations and of mankind, will feel that the 
good cause of humanity and freedom, of Christianity, 
enlightenment and brotherhood, cannot fail to be served 
by such a book as this." 

The London Literary Gazette, in speaking of the 
book, remarked : — " The appearance of this book is too 
remarkable a literary event to pass without a notice. 
At the moment when attention in this country is di- 
rected to the state of the colored people in America, 
the book appears with additional advantage : if nothing 
else were attained by its publication, it is well to have 
another proof of the capability of the negro intellect. 
Altogether, Mr. Brown has written a pleasing and 


amusing volume, and we are glad to bear this testimony 
to the literary merit of a work by a negro author." 

" That a man," said the Morning Chronicle, "who 
was a slave for the first twenty years of his life, and 
who has never had a day's schooling, should produce 
such a book as this, cannot but astonish those who speak 
disparagingly of the African race." 

The London Critic pronounced it a "pleasingly 
and well written book." " It is," said the Athenceum. 
"racy and amusing." The Eclectic Review, in its 
long criticism, has the following: — "The extraordi- 
nary excitement produced by ' Uncle Tonr s Cabin ' 
will, we hope, prepare the public of Great Britain and 
America for this lively book of travels by a real fugi- 
tive slave. Though he never had a day's schooling in 
his life, he has produced a literary work not unworthy 
of a highly-educated gentleman. Our readers will find 
in these letters much instruction, not a little entertain- 
ment, and the beatings of a. manly heart on behalf of a 
down-trodden race, with which they will not fail to 

The British Banner, edited by Dr. Campbell, 
said: — "We have read this book with an unusual 
measure of interest. Seldom, indeed, have we met 
with any thing more captivating. It somehow happens 
that all these fugitive slaves are persons of superior 
talents. The pith of the volume consists in narratives 
of voyages and journeys made by the author in Eng- 
land, Scotland, Ireland and France ; and we can assure 
our readers that Mr. Brown has travelled to some pur- 
pose. The number of white men is not great who could 


have made more of the many things that came before 
them. There is in the work a vast amount of quotable 
matter, which, but for want of space, vre should be 
glad to extract. As the volume, however, is published 
with a view to promote the benefit of the interesting 
fugitive, we deem it better to give a general opinion, 
by which curiosity may be whetted, than to gratify it 
by large citation. A book more worth the money has 
not. for a considerable time, come into our hands. ;; 

The Provincial papers and the London press united 
in their praise of this, the first literary production of 
travels by a fugitive slave. The Glasgow Citizen, 
in its review, remarked: — "W. Wells Brown is no 
ordinary man. or he could not have so remarkably sur- 
mounted the many difficulties and impediments of his 
training as a slave. By dint of resolution, self-cul- 
ture and force of character, he has rendered himself a 
popular lecturer to a British audience, and vigorous 
expositor of the evils and atrocities of that system 
whose chains he has shaken off so triumphantly and for 
ever. We may safely pronounce William Wells Brown 
a remarkable mam and a full refutation of the doctrine 
of the inferiority of the negro."' 

The Glasgow Examiner said: — '-'This is a thril- 
ling book ; independent of adventitious circumstances, 
which will enhance its popularity. The author of it is 
not a man in America, but a chattel. — a thing to be 
bought, and sold, and whipped : but in Europe, he is 
an author, and a successful one. too. He gives in this 
book an interesting and graphic description of a three 
years' residence in Europe. The book will no doubt 


obtain, as it well deserves, a rapid and wide popu- 

The Caledonian Mercury concludes an article of 
more than two columns of criticism and extracts as 
follows : — "The profound anti-slavery feeling produced 
by ' Uncle Tom's Cabin' needed only such a book as 
this, which shows so forcibly the powers and capacity 
of the negro intellect, to deepen the impression." 

Mr. Brown's criticism on Thomas Carlyle brought 
about his ears a whirlwind of remarks from the friends 
of the distinguished Scotchman, while a portion of the 
press sided w^ith the fugitive, and pronounced the arti- 
cle ably written and most just in its criticism. The 
following is the offensive part of the essay, and refers 
to his meeting Mr. Carlyle in an omnibus: — 

"I had scarcely taken my seat, when my friend, 
who was seated opposite me, with looks and gestures 
informed me that we w T ere in the presence of some dis- 
guished individual. I eyed the countenances of the 
different persons, but in vain, to see if I could find any 
one who, by his appearance, showed signs of superiority 
over his fellow-passengers. I had given up the hope 
of selecting the person of note, when another look from 
my friend directed my attention to a gentleman seated 
in the corner of the omnibus. He was a tall man, with 
strongly marked features, hair dark and coarse. There 
was a slight stoop of the shoulder, — that bend which 
is always a characteristic of studious men. But he 
wore on his countenance a forbidding and disdainful 
frown, that seemed to tell one that he thought himself 
better than those about him. His dress did not indi- 


cate a man of high rank, and had we been in America, 
I should have taken him for an Ohio farmer. While I 
was scanning the features and general appearance of 
the gentleman, the omnibus stopped and put down three 
or four of the passengers, which gave me an opportu- 
nity of getting a seat by the side of my friend, who, 
in a low whisper, informed me that the gentleman 
whom I had been eyeing so closely was no less a 
person than Thomas Carlyle. I had read his ' Hero 
Worship J and ' Past and Present,' and had formed a 
high opinion of his literary abilities. But his recent 
attack upon the emancipated people of the West Indies, 
and his laborious article in favor of the reestablish- 
ment of the lash and slavery, had created in my mind 
a dislike for the man, and I almost regretted that we 
were in the same omnibus. In some things, Mr. Car- 
lyle is right; but in many, he is entirely wrong. As 
a writer, Mr. Carlyle is often monotonous and extrav- 
agant. He does not exhibit a new view of nature, or 
raise insignificant objects into importance ; but general- 
ly takes common-place thoughts and events, and tries to 
express them in stronger and statelier language than 
others. He holds no communion with his kind, but 
stands alone, without mate or fellow. He is like a sol- 
itary peak, all access to which is cut off. He exists, 
not by sympathy, but by antipathy. Mr. Carlyle 
seems chiefly to try how he shall display his powers, 
and astonish mankind by starting new trains of specula- 
tion, or by expressing old ones so as not to be under- 
stood. He cares little what he says, so that he can say 
it differently from others. To read his works is one 


thing; to understand them is another. If any one 
thinks that I exaggerate, let him sit for an hour over 
; Sartor Resartus/ and if he does not rise from its 
pages, place his three or four dictionaries on the shelf, 
and say I am right, I promise never again to say a 
word against Thomas Carlyle. He writes one page in 
favor of reform and ten against it. He would hang all 
prisoners to get rid of them ; yet the inmates of the 
prisons and workhouses are better off than the poor. 
His heart is with the poor ; yet the blacks of the West 
Indies should be taught, that if they will not raise 
sugar and cotton of their own free will, * Quashy 
should have the whip applied to him.' He frowns 
upon the reformatory speakers upon the boards of Exe- 
ter Hall ; yet he is the prince of reformers. He hates 
heroes and assassins ; yet Cromwell was an angel, and 
Charlotte Corday a saint. He scorns every thing, and 
seems to be tired of what he is by nature, and tries to 
be what he is not." 



" Fling out the an ti- slavery flag, 
And let it not be furled, 
Till like a planet of the skies, 
It sweeps around the world ! " 

Mr. Brown's name being often brought before the 
public through the reviews of his new book, and dif- 
ferent sketches of his life having been published in 
the London Biographical Magazine, Public Good. 
True Briton, and other periodicals, he was invited to 
lecture before literary associations in London and the 
provincial towns. This induced him to get up a course 
of lectures on America and her great men, St. Do- 
mingo, &c. Thus, during the lecturing season, he was 
busily engaged, either before institutions, or speaking 
on American Slavery. 

In the spring of 1853, the fugitive brought out his 
work, " Clotel, or the President's Daughter,'* — a book 
of near three hundred pages, being a narrative of slave 
life in the Southern States. This work called forth 
new criticisms on the "Negro Author" and his lite- 
rary efforts. The London Daily Neivs pronounced it 
a book that would make a deep impression ; while the 
Leader, edited by the son of Leigh Hunt, thought 
many parts of it "equal to any thing which has ap- 
peared on the slavery question." 


Thus the fugitive slave slowly worked his way up 
into English literary society. After delivering a lec- 
ture before the London Metropolitan Athenaeum, the 
Managing Committee instructed the Secretary to thank 
Mr. Brown, which he did in the following note : — 

'•Metropolitan Athen^um, \ 

189 Strand, June 21st. 1 

"My Dear Sir, — I have much pleasure in con- 
veying to you the best thanks of the Managing Com- 
mittee of this institution for the excellent lecture you 
gave here last evening, and also in presenting you, in 
their names, with an honorary membership of the Club. 
It is hoped that you will often avail yourself of its 
privileges by coming amongst us. You will then see, 
by the cordial welcome of the members, that they pro- 
test against the odious distinctions made between man 
and man, and the abominable traffic of which you have 
been a victim. For my own part, I shall be happy to 
be serviceable to you in any way, and at all times be 
glad to place the advantages of the institution at your 

" I am, my dear sir, yours, truly, 


-Mr. W. Wells Brown." 

Through Mr. Brown's influence and exertions, an 
Anti-Slavery meeting was held on the First of August 
during the three last years of his residence in London. 


The Morning Advertiser describes one of these occa- 
sions in the following terms : — 

"It was on the First of August, that a number of 
men. fugitives from that boasted land of freedom, as- 
sembled at the Hall of Commerce, in the city of Lon- 
don, for the purpose of laying their wrongs before the 
British nation, and. at the same time, to give thanks to 
the God of freedom for the liberation of their West 
India brethren, on the First of August, 183-i. At 
the hour of half past seven, for which the meeting had 
been called, the spacious hall was well filled, and the 
fugitives, followed by some of the most noted English 
Abolitionists, entered the hall, amid deafening applause, 
and took their seats on the platform. The appearance 
of the great hall at this juncture was most splendid. 
Besides the committee of fugitives, on the platform 
there were a number of the oldest and most devoted of 
the slave's friends. On the left of the Chair sat 
George Thompson, Esq., M. P., Sir J. "\Yalmsley, M. 
P., Joseph Hume, Esq., M. P.. and many other equally 
noted public men. Not far from the platform sat Sir 
Francis Knowles, Bart. ; still further back was Samuel 
Bowley, Esq., while near the door were to be seen the 
greatest critic of the age, and England's best living 
poet. Macaulay had laid down his pen, entered the 
hall, and was standing near the central door, while not 
far from the historian stood the newly-appointed Poet 
Laureate. The author of ■ In Memoriam J had been 
swept in by the crowd, and was standing with his arms 
folded, and beholding for the first time, and probably 
the last, so large a number of colored men in one room. 


The chair was most appropriately filled by Wm. Wells 
Brown, the distinguished fugitive slave from America. 
The Chairman first addressed the meeting in an elo- 
quent and feeling manner, after which, speeches were 
made by Mr. George Thompson and others. The gath- 
ering was the most spirited one of the kind held in 
London for many years, and a good impression was 
made upon the assembled multitude." 

No American visiting Great Britain ever had better 
opportunity of becoming acquainted with the con- 
dition of all classes of society than Mr. Brown. He 
saw every phase of life in England, Ireland, Scotland 
and Wales. He partook of the hospitality of the lord 
in his magnificent country-seat, and the peasant in his 
lowly cottage. A fashionable dinner is thus described 
by the fugitive in his " Sketches of Places and People 
Abroad" : — 

" It was on a pleasant afternoon in September that I 

had gone into Surrey to dine with Lord C , and 

found myself one of a party of nine, seated at a 
table loaded with every thing that heart could wish. 
Four men-servants, in livery, with white gloves, waited 
upon the company. After the different courses had 
been changed, the wine occupied the most conspicuous 
place on the table, and all seemed to drink with a rel- 
ish unappreciated except by those who move in the 
higher walks of life. My glass was the only one on 
the table into which the juice of the grape had not been 
poured. It takes more nerve than most men possess to 
enable one to decline taking a glass of wine with a 
lady; and in English society, they do not appear to 


understand how human beings can live and enjoy health 
without taking at least a little wine. By my continued 
refusal to drink, with first one and then another of the 
company, I had become rather an object of pity than 
otherwise. A lady of the party, and in company with 
whom I had dined on a previous occasion, and who 
knew me to be an abstainer, resolved to relieve me 
from the awkward position in which my principles had 
placed me, and therefore caused a decanter of raspberry 
vinegar to be adulterated and brought on the table. 
A note in pencil from the lady informed me of the con- 
tents of the new bottle. I am partial to this kind of 
beverage, and felt glad when it made its appearance. 
No one of the party, except the ]ady, knew of the 
fraud, and I was able, during the remainder of the 
time, to drink with any of the company. The waiters, 
as a matter of course, were in the secret, for they had 
to make the change while passing the wine from me to 
the person with whom I drank. After a while, as is 
usual, the ladies all rose and left the room. The retir- 
ing of the fair sex left the gentlemen in a more free 
and easy position, and consequently, the topics of con- 
versation were materially changed, but not for the bet- 
ter. The presence of ladies is always a restraint in 
the right direction. An hour after the ladies had 
gone, the gentlemen were requested to retire to the 
drawing-room, where we found tea ready to be served 
up. I was glad when the time came to leave for the 
drawing-room, for I felt it a great bore to be com- 
pelled to remain at the table three hoars. Tea over, 
the wine was again brought on, and the company took 


a stroll through the grounds at the back of the villa. 
It was a bright moonlight night, the stars were out, 
and the air came laden with the perfume of sweet flow- 
ers, and there was no sound to be heard except the 
musical splashing of the little cascade at the end of 
the garden, and the song of the nightingale, that seemed 
to be in one of the trees near by. How pleasant every 
thing looked, with the flovfers creeping about the sum- 
mer-house, and the windows opening into the velvet 
lawn, with its modest front, neat trellis- work, and me- 
andering vines ! The small, smooth fish pond, and the 
life-like statues, standing or kneeling in different parts 
of the ground, gave it the appearance of a very Para- 
dise. 'There,' said his lordship, 'is where Cowley 
used to sit under the tree and read.' This reminded 
me that we were near Chertsey, where the poet spent his 
last days; and, as I was invited to spend the night 
within a short ride of that place, I resolved to visit it 
the next day. We returned to the drawing-room, and 
in a few minutes after, the party separated." 

Although mingling with some of the best men and 
women of Europe, Mr. Brown never forgot his country- 
men in bonds, or overlooked the fact that he was himself 
closely connected with them. Nor did his elevated 
position prevent his speaking out faithfully against the 
evils that degrade humanity in the old world. The 
temperance cause, peace, education, and the elevation 
of the laboring classes in Great Britain, claimed much 
of his time and attention. 

During his residence abroad, Mr. Brown travelled 
more than twenty-five thousand miles through Great 


Britain, addressed above one thousand public meetings. 
and lectured before twenty-three literary societies, be- 
sides speaking at religious and benevolent anniversa- 
ries. Few persons could have accomplished more labor 
than did this fugitive slave during his five years' ab- 
sence from America. 

Mr. Brown rendered most valuable services to the 
cause of freedom while in England, by keeping on the 
track of every pro-slavery renegade who made his ap- 
pearance there as an advocate of slavery. Rev. Dr. 
Prime, Dr. Dyer, and others of the same way of think- 
ing, found the fugitive at their heels wherever they went. 
He exposed them, and held them up to the scorn and 
contempt of the people of Great Britain, through the 
columns of the English journals. 



il Ay, fettered not by creed, or clan, or gold, or land, or sea, 
You roam through the world of light and life, rejoicing you 
are free." 

In the spring of 1854. a few ladies, personal friends 
of Mr. Brown, in England, wishing to secure to him 
the right of returning to the United States at any 
time that he might feel inclined, without the liability 
of being arrested as a fugitive slave, negotiated with 
his old master for the purchase of his freedom. As it 
may be interesting to the reader to know how an Amer- 
ican disposes of his neighbors, we give below the Bill 
of Sale, called a Deed of Emancipation : — 

" Knoio all men by these presents. That I, Enoch 
Price, of the city and county of St. Louis, and State 
of Missouri, for and in consideration of the sum of 
three hundred dollars, to be paid to Joseph Greely, my 
agent in Boston, Mass., by Miss Ellen Richardson, or 
her agent, on the delivery of this paper, do emanci- 
pate, set free, and liberate from slavery, a mulatto man 
named Sanford Higgins. alias Win. Wells Brown, that 
I purchased of Samuel Willi on the 2d October, 1833. 
Said Brown is now. in the fortieth year of his age, and 
I do acknowledge that no other person holds any claim 
on him as a slave but myself. 


11 In witness whereof, I hereunto set my hand and 
seal, this 24th day of April, 1854. ' 


-Witness, j Oliver Harhis, 
I John A. Hasson. 

11 State of Missouri, County of St. Louis, s. s. 

u In the St. Louis Circuit Court, 

April Term, 1854. April 25th. 

"Be it remembered, that on this 25th day of April, 
eighteen hundred and fifty-four, in the open Court, 
came Enoch Price, who is personally known to the 
Court to be the same person whose name is subscribed 
to the foregoing instrument of writing as a party 
thereto, and he acknowledged the same to be his act 
and deed, for the purposes therein mentioned ; — which 
said acknowledgment is entered on the record of the 
Court of that day. 

^vdycyt " In testimony whereof, I hereto set my 

jfc t q % hand and affix the seal of said Court, at 
£ " J office in the city of St. Louis, the day and 

^^^^^ year last aforesaid. 

"WM. J. HAMMOND, Clerk." 

11 State of Missouri, County of St. Louis, s. s. 

"I, Wm. J. Hammond, Clerk of the Circuit Court 
in and for the county aforesaid, certify the foregoing to 
be a true and correct copy of the Deed of Emancipa- 
tion from Enoch Price to Sanford Higgins, {alias Wm. 


Wells Brown,) as fully as the same remains in my 

" In testimony whereof, I hereto set my hand and 
affix the seal of said Court, at office in the city of St. 
Louis, this 25th day of April, eighteen hundred and 

"WM. J. HAMMOND, Clerk." 

u State or Missouri, County of St. Louis, s. s. 

" I, Alexander Hamilton, sole Judge of the Circuit 
Court within and for the Eighth Judicial Circuit of the 
State of Missouri, (composed of the County of St. 
Louis,) certify that William J. Hammond, whose name 
is subscribed to the foregoing certificate, was at the 
date thereof, and now is, Clerk of the Circuit Court 
within and for the County of St. Louis, duly elected 
and qualified ; that his said certificate is in due form of 
law, and that full faith and credit are and should be 
given to all such his official acts. 

" Given under my hand, at the city of St. Louis, 
this 26th day of April, eighteen hundred and fifty- 

" A. HAMILTON, Judge" 

u July 7th, 1854. I have received this day Wm. I. 
Bowditch's check on the Globe Bank for three hundred 
dollars, in full for the consideration of the foregoing 
instrument of emancipation. 

V By Thomas Page's authority." 


The foregoing, reader, is a true copy of the bill of 
sale by which a democratic, Christian American sells 
his fellow-countryman for British gold. Let this 
paper be read and the fact rung in the ears of our 
nervous negro aristocracy, who are upholding an in- 
stitution which withers and curses the land, which 
blasts every thing that it touches, which lies like an 
incubus on the nation's breast, which overshadows the 
Genius of the American Revolution, and makes oA 
countrymen the scorn and by-word of the inhabitants of 
monarchical Europe. 



" Hail, noble-hearted, sympathetic band ! 
Men of hope-giving speech and ready hand ! 
Followers of the Lowly One, who first began 
• To plead for charity to fallen man ! " 

As it regards social position, any government is pre- 
ferable to that of the United States for a colored person 
to live under. The prejudice which exists in most of 
the American States against people of color is unknown 
in any European country. This, therefore, is a great 
inducement to colored Americans to take up their resi- 
dence abroad. Although recognised as a man, and 
treated with deference by all he met, Mr. Brown 
wished to return to the United States. His feelings 
and inclinations were all with the slave and his friends, 
and his soul yearned to be where the great battle for 
freedom was being fought. With such feelings, he 
had no wish to remain in England, when informed by 
his friends that his liberty had been secured; he there- 
fore made preparations to return home immediately. 
The following, from " Sketches of Places and People 
Abroad," will give some idea of the (now) freeman's 
feelings, when preparing for his departure from Lon- 
don : — 

" What a change five years make in one's history ! 
The summer of 1849 found me a stranger in a foreign 


land, unknown to its inhabitants ; its laws, customs and 
history were a blank to me. But how different the 
summer of 1851 ! During my sojourn. I had travelled 
over nearly every railroad in England and Scotland, 
and had visited Ireland and Wales, besides spending 
some weeks on the Continent. I had become so well 
acquainted with the British people and their history, 
that I had begun to fancy myself an Englishman, by 
habit, if not by birth. The treatment which I had ex- 
perienced at their hands had endeared them to me, and 
caused me to feel myself at home wherever I went. 
Under such circumstances, it was not strange that I 
commenced with palpitating heart the preparations to 
return to my native land. Native land ! How harsh- 
ly that word sounds in my ears ! True, xVmerica was 
the land of my birth ; my grandfather had taken part 
in her Revolution, had enriched the soil with his blood, 
yet upon this soil I had been worked as a slave. I 
seem to hear the sound of the auctioneer's rough voice, 
as I stood on the block in the slave-market at St. 
Louis. I shall never forget the savage grin with which 
he welcomed a higher bid, when he thought he had 
received the last offer. I had seen my mother sold, 
and taken to the cotton-fields of the far South ; three 
brothers had been bartered to the soul-drivers in my 
presence ; a dear sister had been sold to the negro- 
dealer and driven away by him ; I had seen the rusty 
chains fastened upon her delicate wrists ; the whip had 
been applied to my own person, and the marks of the 
brutal driver's lash were still on my body. Yet this 
was my native land, and to this land was I about to 


Mr. Brown came home in the steamship " City of 
Manchester," and landed at Philadelphia, where a re- 
ception was given to him. " The meeting," says the 
Anti- Slavery Standard, u was held in the Brick Wes- 
ley Church, which was crowded to its utmost capacity 
with the friends of Mr. Brown, and the public general- 
ly, to extend to him the most cordial token of regard. 
The fact that he had faithfully and nobly represented 
his enslaved countrymen, while in Europe, was too 
obvious, in the estimation of those who had assembled 
to welcome and greet him on his return, to admit of a 
shadow of doubt. During the five years that Mr. 
Brown had passed in Europe, his numerous friends, es- 
pecially the colored man, have had great cause of satis- 
faction and gratification in looking over his labors ; as 
a lecturer, presenting the claims of his brethren in 
bonds ; as an author, constantly using his pen in en- 
lightening the British people on the monstrous iniqui- 
ties of slavery, and likewise contributing to the demands 
of literature and knowledge in other respects — two of 
his works having been published and creditably noticed 
by the press of Great Britain." 

Robert Purvis, Esq., one of the most devoted 
friends of the slave, presided over the meeting, and at 
its close, the following resolutions were unanimously 
adopted : — 

" Resolved , That we rejoice in the opportunity af- 
forded by this meeting of greeting our friend Wm. 
Wells Brown, on his return to this country, and that 
we hereby avail ourselves of it to extend to him our 
heartiest assurances of welcome. 


11 Resolved, That our thanks are due to Mr. Brown 

for the zeal and fidelity with which he has advocated 


the cause of freedom and the interests of the colored 
man in Great Britain, and that we are severally grate- 
ful to him for leaving a country where a black man la- 
bors under no disabilities, and where there is no preju- 
dice against color, to return to this land of slavery, and 
labor for the disenthralment of his brethren from the 
hate of the white man and the chains of. the slave- 

At Boston, a meeting was held in the Meionaon, at 
which Francis Jackson, Esq., the staunch friend of 
humanity, presided. Speeches were made by Wm. 
Lloyd Garrison, Wm. C. Nell, and Wendell 
Phillips. The last-named speaker, in welcoming Mr. 
Brown, said, — "I rejoice that our friend Brown went 
abroad: I rejoice still more that he has returned. The 
years any thoughtful man spends abroad must enlarge 
his mind and store it richly. But such a visit is, to a 
colored man, more than merely intellectual education. 
He lives for the first time free from the blighting chill 
of prejudice. He sees no society, no institution, no 
place of resort or means of comfort from which his 
color debars him." 

After mentioning some amusing instances of the 
surprise of Americans at this absence of prejudice 
abroad, Mr. Phillips said, — "We have to thank our 
friend for the fidelity with which he has, amid many 
temptations, stood by those whose good name religious 
prejudice is trying to undermine in Great Britain. 
That land is not all Paradise to the colored man. Too 


many of them allow themselves to be made tools of the 
most subtle foes of their race. We recognise, to-night, 
the clear-sightedness and fidelity of Mr. Brown's course 
abroad, not only to thank him, but to assure our friends 
there that this is what the Abolitionists of Boston 

Mr. Phillips proceeded: — "I still more rejoice that 
Mr. Brown has returned. Returned to what? Not to 
what he can call his ' country.' The white man comes 
1 home.' When Milton heard, in Italy, the sound of 
arms from England, he hastened back — -young, enthu- 
siastic, and bathed in beautiful art as he was in Flor- 
ence. * I would not be away,' he said, ' when a blow 
was struck for liberty.' He came to a country where 
his manhood was recognised, to fight on equal footing. 
The black man comes home to no liberty but the liber- 
ty of suffering — to struggle in fetters for the welfare 
of his race. It is a magnanimous sympathy with his 
blood that brings such a man back. I honor it. We 
meet to do it honor. Franklin's motto was, Ubi Lib- 
ertas : ibi patria — Where Liberty is, there is my coun- 
try. Had our friend adopted that for his rule, he would 
have stayed in Europe. Liberty for him is there. The 
colored man who returns, like our friend, to labor, 
crushed and despised, for his race, sails under a higher 
flag : his motto is, ' Where my country is, there will I 
bring liberty ! ' "